Do You Really Need to Restrict Salt Consumption?

Unfairly demonized?

The American Council on  Science and Health has a brief review of the latest research on salt restriction, and it’s not supportive of population-wide sodium restriction.  On the other hand, salt-restriction proponents believe it would reduce strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, and premature death.  I’ve been a salt-restriction skeptic for a couple decades.

Remember, table salt molecules contain one sodium atom and one chloride atom.  Salt-restricted and low-sodium diets are usually designated by the amount of sodium, not salt.

That being said, I do believe some individuals have elevated blood pressure related to relatively high sodium intake.  This may apply to one of every five adults with high blood pressure.  To find out if you’re one of the five, you could go on a low-sodium diet—1.5 to 3 grams a day—for one or two months and see what it does to your blood pressure.  Get your personal physician’s blessing first.

Steve Parker, M.D.

4 Comments

Filed under Heart Disease, Longevity, Stroke

4 responses to “Do You Really Need to Restrict Salt Consumption?

  1. alan

    don’t know… i am following a low carb nutrition (20/40 g cho) and i supplement with 2 tsp of extra salt daily in water other the normal use in food as advised by volek-phinney. my blood pressure is 95/55.
    male 40 y o active.

    • Hey, Alan.
      My sense about most very-low-carb diets is that they are naturally low in sodium because you’re not eating the over-processed packaged and canned foods that are in the standard American diet.
      I thought Finney/Volek/Westman in “The New Atkins for a New You” recommended at least a half teaspoon of extra salt daily, I thought primarily to prevent “induction flu.”

      -Steve

  2. alan

    hello dr parker,
    surely not consuming processed food it is one good take. in fact i do not eat cured meat anymore, therefore nitrates etc are out.
    i actually was referring to the book :” the art and science of low carbohydrate living”.
    other people, like dr. cordain, believes that chloride intake is bad so total salt intake should be reduced.
    i believe that the individual has to make a choiche and go for what works for himself.
    alan

    • Alan, I’ve never heard of anyone focus on chloride like Dr. Cordain in his 2002 book. Not saying he’s wrong.
      Offhand, the only dietary sources of sodium I can think of are NaCl (sodium chloride) and NaHCO3 (sodium bicarbonate). Anyone avoiding “salt” is going to be cutting down on chloride automatically.