Harvard Heart Letter

"Low salt" still the dietary rule

A panel of experts appointed by the Institute of Medicine was asked determine whether people who reduce their salt intake to the low level recommended by the American Heart Association have better health outcomes—not just markers of good health, such as normal blood pressure, but less disease and longer lives. The panel found very few studies of health outcomes in people with very low salt intake. Those they did find were in European studies of people who received an unusually extreme fluid-restriction treatment for heart failure not used in the U.S. Those people did worse when they also reduced their salt intake to very low levels. Some press reports wrongly took this to mean that low-salt diets aren't heart healthy. In fact, there's good evidence that the high-salt diets that most Americans eat are bad for health and lowering sodium intake is a smart move.
To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »