From Dr. Mercola:
The leading cause of heart attacks and stroke in the U.S. is high blood pressure. Recommendations from the American Heart Association (AHA) and other policy makers have been to reduce salt intake in order to control your blood pressure. However, research has not supported this recommendation for everyone.1
Salt is an ionic compound made of two groups of oppositely charged ions, namely sodium and chloride. Table salt is made of one metal ion (sodium) and one non-metal ion (chloride). Your body needs both ions to function and can produce neither, so you must get them from your food.
However, not all salts are created equally. Refined table salt is almost all pure sodium chloride and 39 percent sodium. The rest are man-made chemicals.
Iodine is often added to refined salt in a public health preventive measure against iodine deficiency. A lack of iodine is the leading cause of hypothyroidism, mental retardation, autism, depression and anxiety.2
Unprocessed salt, such as pink Himalayan salt, is 84 percent sodium chloride and 37 percent pure sodium. The remainder is naturally occurring trace minerals your body also needs, including phosphorus and vanadium.3
Dangers of Restricting Your Salt Too Much
In a controversial study4,5,6,7 published in the Lancet medical journal, results supported a mid-range salt intake to protect your heart and your health. While high-salt diets are not healthy for your body, it turns out that low-salt diets are dangerous as well.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average American eats approximately 3,400 milligrams (mg) of salt each day.8 This is higher than the 1,500 mg per day that the AHA recommends, but within range of the results of this study.9
Associate professor of clinical epidemiology and lead researcher, Andrew Mente, Ph.D. finds that, “Having neither too high nor too low levels of sodium is optimal for health.”10
Mente and his colleagues analyzed four different studies covering 49 countries and using over 113,000 participants. Each study was structured in the same manner, estimating salt intake from a single-morning urine sample and then following the participant’s health status for several years.
The results demonstrated that whether you suffer from high blood pressure or not, low salt intake was linked to a greater risk of heart attack, stroke and death.11 The data does highlight the need to lower salt intake if you suffer from high blood pressure, but not to levels currently recommended.
Instead, the study demonstrates that eating a moderate amount of salt, near to 3,000 mg per day, was associated with the best health. Salt intake levels that were high or low carried the same risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke.
Results indicated a low-salt diet could increase your risk of heart attack by 26 percent if you don’t suffer from high blood pressure, and 34 percent higher risk if you do.
Arguments Against the Study Results
Although controversial, the results of the study have been supported by the