New Study: Eat Less Sodium, Live Longer

Tipped-over Salt Shaker --- Image by © Tom Grill/CorbisIs Complying With The Recommendations Of Sodium Intake Beneficial For Health In Individuals At High Cardiovascular Risk? Findings From The PREDIMED Study, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, February, 2015

Conclusions: Decreasing sodium intake to less than 2300 mg/d was associated with a reduced risk of all-cause mortality, whereas increasing the intake to above 2300 mg/d was associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

These were people who already had a high risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). In those who lowered their sodium to less than 2300 mg/day, there was a 48% lower risk of dying in 1 year of follow-up. That lower risk held for 3 years of follow-up (49%). If they increased their sodium intake to above 2300 mg, there was a 72% higher risk of having a heart attack within a 1 year follow-up.

So, you can halve the risk of premature death by eating less salt? Why not?

Sodium increases blood pressure. If you eat a lot of sodium, and often, you can experience chronically high blood pressure. High blood pressure damages arteries. That damage sets the stage for atherosclerosis. (Immune cells, calcium, and lipids tend to accumulate at damaged areas.) And atherosclerosis sets the stage for stroke and heart attack.

One level teaspoon of table salt (about 6 grams) contains about 2325 mg of sodium. If you wanted to keep your sodium intake to less than 2300 mg, you’d have to eat less than a teaspoon of salt a day. But that includes the sodium hidden in food. For example, one serving of Oscar Mayer fat-free oven-roasted chicken breast has about 646 mg of sodium, an ounce of American cheese has 428 mg, a couple teaspoons of mustard have 114 mg, a tablespoon of mayo about 120 mg, a couple slices of bread about 320 mg. One fairly simple sandwich could use up half your day’s allowance even before you shake any salt.

2 thoughts on “New Study: Eat Less Sodium, Live Longer

  1. Bix Post author

    What I like about this study is that it has a hard endpoint – death. I mean, you can’t have any more hard or finite than that. I’m aware of the J-shaped curve people have been talking about, where risk is (may be) slightly elevated at very low sodium intakes, falls, then rises again. This is what these authors say about the J-shape:

    “Previous studies have suggested that the J-shaped or inverse relation reflects a causal relation (i.e., a very low sodium intake is a consequence of disease). A more plausible explanation is that such findings resulted from methodologic limitations of the studies, the most important of which were inaccurate measurement of sodium intake in free-living individuals and the potential for reverse causality.”

    Reply

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