While a low sodium diet is beneficial for lowering blood pressure, it may not be so healthy for your heart. According to the New York Times reported today, a review of studies has found that a diet that’s too low in sodium may actually increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Researchers reviewed four observational studies that included 133,118 people who were followed for an average of four years. The scientists took blood pressure readings, and estimated sodium consumption by urinalysis. The review is found in Lancet.
Among 69,559 people without hypertension, consuming more than seven grams of sodium daily did not increase the risk for disease or death, but those who ate less than three grams had a 26 percent increased risk for death or for cardiovascular events like heart disease and stroke, compared with those who consumed four to five grams a day.
The current guidelines for salt intake recommends a daily maximum of 2.3 grams of sodium a day-the amount found in a teaspoon of salt-for most people, and less for the elderly or people with hypertension.
The lead author for the studies, Andrew Mente, an epidemiologist at McMaster University in Toronto, said that while eating less salt could lower your blood pressure, it can be detrimental to your heart. “But low sodium intake may be harmful,” he says. “It’s important not to rely on blood pressure alone, but rather to look at actual clinical events-heart attack, stroke, mortality.”