Moderate salt intake is not harmful to health, study finds

High Sodium Intake,Control Salt Intake,High Salt Problems

China is the only country in their study where 80 per cent of communities have a sodium intake of more than five grams a day.

WHO recommends capping salt consumption at five grams per day, but this target is not known to have been achieved at a national level anywhere in the world, the survey of more than 90,000 people spread across 300 distinct communities in 18 countries found.

The study analysed the data of 94,000 people in 18 countries, whose sodium levels was measured using urine tests.

Salt consumption exceeds national and World Health Organization guidelines in most countries, but only the highest-sodium diets, such as in China, are linked to clear health risks, researchers said Friday.

Four-fifths of the groups examined in China had average daily salt intake of 12.5 grams, whereas in other countries 84 percent ingested between 7.5 and 12.5 grams. In the other countries, the majority of the communities had an average sodium consumption of 3 to 5 grams a day (equivalent to 1.5 to 2.5 teaspoons of salt).

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The team used data from the ongoing Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study for the analysis.

Experts not involved in the study were sharply critical of its methodology, and said its findings should be taken with more than a few grains of salt. "Sodium consumption was inversely associated with myocardial infarction or heart attacks and total mortality, and no increase in stroke".

Martin O'Donnell, study author and Associate Professor of Medicine, said: "There is no convincing evidence that people with moderate or average sodium intake need to reduce their sodium intake for prevention of heart disease and stroke". Our bodies need essential nutrients like sodium, but the question is how much. The recommendation to lower sodium consumption to 2g/day is based on short-term trials of sodium intake and blood pressure, and the assumption that any approach to reduce blood pressure will necessarily translate into a lower risk of cardiovascular disease with no unintended consequences. Diets rich in fruit and vegetables are high in potassium. Compared with moderate sodium intake, the study found that high sodium intake (above 7g/day) was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events and mortality in hypertensive populations, and low sodium (below 3g/day) intake was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events and mortality in people with or without hypertension. An increased cardiovascular risk was only observed in communities where the average intake was greater than 5 g/day.

Mente added: "We found all major cardiovascular problems, including death, decreased in communities and countries where there is an increased consumption of potassium which is found in foods such as fruits, vegetables, dairy foods, potatoes and nuts and beans".

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