For years we have been told that salt is bad for us, that it increases our risk of high blood pressure, which in turn increases our risk of heart disease and stroke. We were told to try and reduce our salt intake, to look out for high levels of salt in processed foods and even in soda and bread. But now a new study comes along and says ‘nah, don’t worry, it’s not a big deal after all.”
In fact this new study from Europe even has the temerity to suggest that high consumption might have some benefits. As my dear old mother would say, WTF! Though in her case it stands for “well, that’s funny”
This study followed 3,681 middle-aged Europeans (don’t you love how precise they are, not almost 3700 or more than 3600 but exactly 3,681) who didn’t have high blood pressure or heart disease at the start of the study. They were divided into three groups: low salt intake, moderate salt intake and high salt intake. There were 50 deaths in the low salt group, 24 in the moderate group and just 10 in the high salt group.
More salt less risk
The biggest shocker – based on all that we’d been warned about for years – was that the heart disease risk in the low salt group was 56 percent higher than the high salt group. So the less salt the study participants consumed the more likely they were to die of heart disease.
You mean all those years of not lavishing salt on my fish and chips were wasted!!!
What’s up with that!
What’s going on here? Is this just one of those aberrations where one research group comes up with a finding that is different from everything that has gone before, or is this that rare beast that shows that everything else that came before was rubbish and wrong! And the groups that have been telling us that salt is bad for us are not exactly scientific lightweights. They include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Medical Association, and the American Heart Association.
Well, the first thing to do here, as with all studies, is to look at who did it. This one is published by the Business School of Happiness which, despite the great name doesn’t carry quite the same weight as, say Harvard Medical School. The second thing is to look at what the study is promoting. If you follow the news release promoting it closely you find out that it links you to a new book that promotes, well, the new book. OK, two strikes against it so far. But the biggest strike is the third one, and that this pretty much contradicts everything that has gone before.
One of the best things you can do is never base anything you do on one study, no matter how much you would like to. There are thousands of new studies that come out every month, some are bound to contradict others that have gone before. The key is to look at the overall weight of the evidence not just the bits that suit you. In this case, most evidence, most studies, most scientific bodies still say salt is a problem, that it is linked to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke and so you really should try and limit your consumption of it.
To say otherwise, based on this one study, would be to insalt your intelligence.