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The Great Salt Debate

Does reducing sodium make you healthier? Nutrition Diva tackles the sodium question and offers 3 tips to stay healthy

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS,
August 23, 2011
Episode #151

Think the debate over the national debt was contentious? That’s nothing compared to the war being waged in scientific circles about how much sodium it’s safe to eat.  It’s not a new debate—it’s been going on for decades. But recently, the argument has grown more heated. As researchers duke it out in the pages of medical journals, poor consumers are caught in a cross-fire of contradictory recommendations.

Last month, for example, a highly regarded panel of scientists concluded that “cutting down on the amount of salt has no clear benefits.”  Just one week later, researchers from the CDC insisted “a diet high in sodium increases risk of death from all causes.”  In both cases, researchers can cite decades of data on thousands of subjects to support their conclusions. What’s going on here?

Why Can’t the Experts Agree on Sodium?

Part of the confusion lies in trying to make a single recommendation for everyone. If you’re sensitive to the effects of sodium, eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure—and that can be life-threatening.

You’re more likely to be salt sensitive if you are:

  • Over 50

  • Overweight

  • African American

  • Have impaired kidney function

People who have high blood pressure or any other reason

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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