Does Salt Cause Heart Problems…Or Doesn’t It?

December 21, 2011

Eliminating salt from the diet has long been preached as a way to curb heart disease symptoms, but a new study suggests it may have a negative effect on the more important result…longevity.

Whether you have high blood pressure, risk for heart problems, or are a certain age, your doctor has probably recommended cutting back on salt to improve heart health. (Or you may live in a city that wants to ban salt from restaurants!) Why? For a certain subset of people with heart problems and a certain gene, cutting back on salt can really help heart disease symptoms.

But genetic testing isn’t common yet, so it’s safer to recommend that everyone cut back on salt, because hey, Americans have too much salt in their overly-processed diet already, right?

The problem here is that there may be a certain selectivity bias: those who are most active at protecting their health (not eating overly salted pre-packaged and highly processed foods) will listen to the advice “don’t eat salt” when it perhaps is less relevant to them (talk to your doctor, and ask about genetic testing for heart problems in your genes).

Well, cutting back on salt does lower blood pressure. Unfortunately, it may negatively impact certain other heart disease symptoms, including cholesterol levels, triglycerides, and adrenaline.

In May, a study found that those who east the least amount of salt die three times more often then those who eat the most salt.

If you’re worried about salt intake anyway, here’s three tips to follow:

1) Try cooking at home more. You can completely control the salt levels in your food, while eating more nutritiously (which can help boost overall health).
2) Switch to natural salts that don’t have chlorine. Some people think that the chlorine in regular table salts and certain artificial sugars may not be good for health, although I’ve not seen a specific study on the topic.
3) Make sure that you’re getting iodine. Without it, you may get a goiter. Iodine can be found in seafood (especially shellfish) as well certain mineral salts…read labels!

Where do you stand in the current great salt debate over heart disease symptoms?

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