Steering clear of salty foods might not be as helpful to the heart as previously thought, a new study claims.

Lynn Moore, lead researcher, revealed that the study’s participants did not appear to derive any health advantage from a low-salt diet.

The findings were based on data from more than 2,600 men and women participating in a long-term heart health study of people from Framingham, Massachusetts, US.

Participants had normal blood pressure at the study’s start but over the next 16 years, those who consumed less than 2,500 milligrams of sodium a day tended to have higher blood pressure than participants who consumed more sodium, the researchers reported.

They found that people with higher intake of potassium, calcium and magnesium had lower long-term blood pressure.

The research team relied on six days of detailed dietary records to estimate people’s intake of sodium and other minerals.

Moore said the results show that Americans, whose average sodium intake is around 3,000 to 3,500 milligrams (mg) a day, should be healthy, particularly if they also get enough potassium and magnesium.

“People who were on a lower-sodium salt diet in general, over the next 20 or 30 years actually had no benefit, specifically in terms of their blood pressure or their risk of developing heart disease,” Moore said.

“Higher intakes of potassium were strongly associated with both a lower blood pressure and a lower risk of heart disease.

“There seems to be no real added risk in that range, I think the average American is probably doing OK in terms of sodium, but almost all Americans need to increase their intake of potassium.”

The American Heart Association has however questioned the study’s validity and said that it would continue to recommend limiting salt intake.



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