Little evidence sharp reductions in salt consumption will improve health, heart researcher says

The National Post reports:

The drive to bring about “sweeping,” sharp reductions in salt consumption is based more on zealotry than science, and should be halted until there’s better evidence, one of Canada’s foremost heart researchers charges in a provocative new commentary.

Reducing ingestion of sodium has been a major focus of public-health advocates in recent years, and generated widespread, sometimes-alarming media coverage.

But there is only modest evidence that cutting back on salt radically will reduce high blood pressure, and little or none that it would actually prevent heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems, argues Dr. Salim Yusuf in a journal article.

He does not question that some people whose salt levels are higher than the average should eat less of it or risk health problems, but criticizes calls by Health Canada and others for deep, population-wide cuts.

“The zeal to recommend extreme reductions in sodium that are difficult to achieve in the entire population … is a case of ideology replacing good science,” said Dr. Yusuf, the Heart-and-Stroke-Foundation Chair in Cardiovascular Science at Hamilton’s McMaster University.

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