It’s been long believed that a diet high in salts increases the risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD). Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine have startlingly found just the opposite: that low salt (sodium) diets increase the incidence of CVD deaths.
The study accounted for 8,700 American adults over the age of 30, intended to be a “representative sample of adults in the U.S.” Adjusting results for conditions known to increase CVD mortality risk, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, it was found that “one-fourth of the sample who reported consuming the lowest amount of sodium were found to be 80% more likely to die from CVD compared to the one-fourth of the sample consuming the highest level of sodium.”
While the results of this study are significant, since the study was observational (as opposed to clinical), no definitive explanation for why low sodium diets cause more CVD deaths is provided. Nonetheless, the study should not be taken with a grain of salt. As study author Dr. Hillel Cohen concludes, “our findings suggest that for the general adult population, higher sodium is very unlikely to be independently associated with higher risk of death from CVD or all other causes of death,” and cautions that “our findings do again raise questions about the usefulness or evensafety of universal recommendations for lower salt diets for all individuals, regardless of their blood pressure status or other health characteristics.”
Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Cohen, Hillel. Albert Einstein College of Medicine news release. May 2008.