A new study that followed more than 2,600 men and women for 16 years found that consuming less sodium wasn't associated with lower blood pressure. The new findings call into question the sodium limits recommended by the current dietary guidelines.
The new research, from Boston University School of Medicine, will presented this month at the the Experimental Biology 2017 meeting in Chicago.
Currrent guidelines from the Institute of Medicine advise healthy North Americans to limit sodium intake to 2,300 grams a day.
For the study, the researchers followed 2,632 men and women, aged 30 to 64 years old, who were part of the Framingham Offspring Study. The participants had normal blood pressure at the study's start.
However, over the next 16 years, the researchers found that the study participants who consumed less than 2500 milligrams of sodium a day had higher blood pressure than participants who consumed higher amounts of sodium.
Other large studies published in the past few years have found what researchers call a J-shaped relationship between sodium and cardiovascular risk, meaning that people with low-sodium diets and people with a very high sodium intake (above the usual intake of the average American) had higher risks of heart disease. Those with the lowest risk had sodium intakes in the middle, which is the range consumed by most Americans.
More potassium, calcium, magnesium tied to lower blood pressure
The researchers also found that people in the study who had higher intakes of potassium, calcium and magnesium had lower blood pressure over the long term. People with higher combined intakes of sodium (3717 milligrams per day on average) and potassium (3211 milligrams per day on average on average) had the lowest blood pressure.
This study and others point to the importance of higher potassium – and calcium and magnesium – intakes on blood pressure.
The researchers noted that there is likely a subset of people sensitive to salt who would benefit from lowering sodium intake. However, more research is needed to develop easier methods to screen for salt sensitivity and to determine appropriate guidelines for sodium and potassium intakes in salt-sensitive people.
Source: Experimental Biology 2017.
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