For years, one of the staples of eating a heart healthy diet was to limit sodium intake. After all, salt leads to heart disease, right? As it turns out, the answer might be a bit more complicated than that, and salt might not be the silent killer it was once thought to be.
The Connection Between Salt and Heart Disease Risk
Despite the fact that Americans consume an average of 1,100 mg more salt per day than the recommended daily limit, new observational studies suggest that not everyone needs to worry so much about this number.
A 16-year study found surprising evidence that salt consumption is not necessarily linked with high blood pressure. In fact, people who are in general good health but who eat a lot of salt don’t appear to be at a greater risk for having high blood pressure, one of the risk factors for developing heart disease.
On the other hand, reducing salt intake doesn’t appear to have much of an effect on people who already have high blood pressure, which could indicate that adopting a low-sodium diet isn’t always the most effective approach to keeping your heart healthy.
Tips for a Heart Healthy Diet
These studies, however, don’t suggest that you shouldn’t care at all about how much salt you’re eating. Instead, pay attention to how many processed foods you consume, as these foods are known to be high in sodium and could be more hazardous to your health than a little extra table salt. It’s also important to keep an eye on the foods you order at restaurants, as these items tend to be very high in sodium content.