Study: Current CDC Salt Guidelines Are Too Low
If you are often a little heavy handed on the salt shaker, a new study published Wednesday in the American Journal of Hypertension may have some good news for you. The analysis from Denmark found that current recommended salt guidelines may be too low. HealthDay News highlighted the study this week and explained that after researching twenty-five prior studies, health experts in Denmark found that low levels of salt consumption may be linked with a greater risk of death.
That means that although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said time and time again that Americans consume too much salt, the agency may actually be wrong. Review author Dr. Niels Graudal, a senior consultant at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, explained via HealthDay, “For most people, there is no reason to change their dietary habits concerning salt, as most people eat what appears to be the safest amount.”
So that changes things. Currently, the CDC has a recommendation for less than 2,300 mg of salt per day for healthy people under 50, and less than 1,500 mg per day for more people over 50. On the other hand, Graudal and his team believe that the safe range is actually somewhere between 2,645 and 4,945 mg of salt a day, and most of the world’s populations consume somewhere in that range.
It’s an interesting study, and one that isn’t expected to change current public health policy in the United States or CDC recommendations, but it is still important to note that not only did health experts find that too much salt is harmful, they determined that too little salt is damaging as well. As pointed out by HealthDay News, we’ve long known that overconsumption of salt can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality; however, what we didn’t know, and what new research maintains, is that too little salt can also lead to the same harmful effects.
Now, the question is, how did the CDC respond to the report published Wednesday? They weren’t convinced. The agency is standing by its recommendation levels, and HealthDay News reported that Janelle Gunn, a public health analyst in the CDC’s division for heart disease and stroke prevention, explained, “Nearly everyone benefits from reduced sodium consumption. Ninety percent of Americans exceed the general daily recommended sodium intake limit of 2,300 mg, increasing their risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.”
Thus, there lies two conflicting arguments: Reduced sodium consumption is always beneficial versus reduced sodium consumption can be harmful. Gunn stands by her assertion that a reduced salt intake would help prevent thousands of heart attacks and strokes, while researchers like Graudal cite their research to argue the opposite.
HealthDay News brought in a third party after the study was published Wednesday to be the tie-breaker. Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at NYU Langone Medical Center, maintained that the argument is actually about balance and the study “highlights the fact that too much or too little salt can affect the physiological functions of the body and increase the risk of death.” She also went on to explain that the problem with Americans’ salt consumption is that most of it comes from processed foods, keeping Americans from recognizing how much we really are consuming. She believes we would be better suited making our food at home, allowing us to be always conscious of how much salt we really are consuming.
But regardless of what the CDC or Heller says, it is clear that Graudal is standing by his research, not surprisingly considering it was reviewed by nearly 275,000 people, according to HealthDay News. The studies found a link between salt intake and health outcomes, and reported that deaths increased when daily consumption was less than 2,645 mg or above 4,945 mg.