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Do people who restrict salt have lower rates of heart attacks?

Surprisingly, a recent study found that Americans who consumed the currently-recommended 2,300 mg/day of sodium had a 37 percent higher chance of dying from heart attacks. Researchers from Albert Einstein Medical School analyzed the Second United States National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and found that evidence linking sodium intake to mortality outcomes is scant and inconsistent (American Journal of Medicine, March 2006).

The results are unexpected because a high-salt diet can cause some people to develop high blood pressure, which increases a person's chances of suffering heart attacks and strokes. Perhaps the explanation is that many people don't start restricting salt until after they find out that they are at high risk. Most medical authorities will continue to recommend diets low in salt, but salt itself probably is not the culprit. For years I have recommended a plant-based diet that is low in meats and processed foods. Meats are naturally high in salt, and most processed foods contain a lot of salt even if they don’t taste salty. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts are naturally low in salt; and even if some salt is added when they are cooked or at the table, these foods will contain far less salt than most processed foods.

May 1, 2006

May 19th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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