Or WILL IT?
A recent study out of McMaster University suggests that maybe it's time to rethink those recommendations about salt. The large-scale study, which involved 130,000 people from 49 countries, found that, hey, maybe a low-salt diet isn't just not necessary for most people, it can actually increase your risk of heart problems and -- gasp! -- death.
Um. What? So basically, the experts have been saying that eating too much salt can kill you, and now they're learning that not eating enough can also maybe kill you?
How do you reconcile these contradictory recommendations?
Andrew Mente, lead author of the study and an associate professor of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics at McMaster's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, says that, official government positions notwithstanding, it's kind of ridiculous to say every single person should stick to a low-salt diet. He notes, "A recommendation for low sodium intake (e.g., < 2.3g/day or lower) in the entire population should be based on definitive proof of benefit."
Mente's findings suggest that this proof doesn't exist. There are no studies that actually demonstrate that lower sodium intake, when applied to a huge population filled with all kinds of health profiles, lowers mortality or incidence of heart problems.
Even more mind-boggling, Mente claims there are studies showing that those with low sodium intake have the highest risk of adverse outcomes. The McMaster study also notes that the only people who need to lower their sodium intake are folks who already have hypertension and who also already consume tons of salt on the regular (5 or 6g per day) -- and even then, they say that too-low sodium intake isn't really ideal.