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Some people might need more salt in their diets, not less

New research suggests that a moderate intake is best to reduce blood pressure.

Image: salt via Shutterstock

NEW RESEARCH HAS suggested that having too little salt in your diet is harmful.

The findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, show that low sodium levels are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Consuming over 5 grams of salt per day is generally considered harmful to health, with the recommended level being less than 2.3 grams.

However, less than 5% of the population achieve this in practice.

An Irish researcher involved in the study, Professor Martin O’Donnell from NUIG, is warning that the findings “do not mean that people should become complacent about salt intake”.

“High salt intake is a health risk especially in those with high blood pressure,” he siad.

People should avoid adding salt to their foods, as many foods already contain salt, and should reduce or avoid processed foods that contain high salt.

“Moderate salt intake is only one part of a healthy diet, other aspects of a balanced diet are important, such as increasing fruit and vegetable intake,” O’Donnell added.

The study, Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiological (PURE), followed the dietary habits of 100,000 people over four years.

The study found the lowest risk of death and cardiovascular event in those who consumed between three and six grams of sodium per day, while the risk increased above and below that level.

For those looking to lower blood pressure, the researchers are pointing towards another finding – an association between increased potassium intake.

“While there has been much focus on reducing salt in the diet, an important and ignored approach to lowering blood pressure is increasing the amount of potassium consumed,”  Andrew Mente from McMaster University said.

Principal Investigator Salim Yusuf said the findings  ”are robust, globally applicable and collectively question established dogma and recommended policies”.

Read: Adding iodine to salt is making Americans smarter >

More: Little girl has first taste of salt and vinegar crisps, reacts adorably >

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Nicky Ryan

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