A moderate decrease in dietary salt does not reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease or dying, according to the latest analysis of research on sodium consumption.
In findings published online today in the Cochrane Library and the American Journal of Hypertension, researchers from the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States evaluated 7 randomized, controlled studies that included 6257 participants who cut back on salt in their diet for at least 6 months. The analysis was aimed at determining whether reductions in blood pressure reported in studies that have examined the effects of salt-restricted diets would translate into lower risks of cardiovascular disease and death.
The researchers said they found “no strong evidence” that consuming less salt reduced the likelihood of cardiovascular disease or death from any cause in people with normal or high blood pressure. However, they did find nearly double the risk of death from any cause in people with heart failure who ate a low-sodium diet.
Studies that they analyzed used a variety of approaches to reduce salt intake—dietary and behavior change programs, group counseling sessions, and written information. But the researchers noted that in all of the studies they evaluated, these methods resulted in only modest reductions in salt intake and blood pressure.
“The challenge for clinical and public health practice is to find more effective interventions for reducing salt intake that are both [practical] and inexpensive,” the researchers wrote. “Voluntary reductions in hidden salt by the food industries and dietary advice to individuals are promoted as the best available interventions. Our review focuses on dietary advice and has not found robust evidence to support this approach.”