Low-salt diet: would it really help?

With all the news lately on efforts to decrease salt intake in America, this morning the New York Times reports a backlash of sorts from experts who claim that it might not be possible to induce people to eat less salt -- and even if they do, it might not make that much of a health difference after all. As the article says, "The estimates about all the lives to be saved are just extrapolations based on the presumed benefits of lower blood pressure."

More from the New York Times article: "If you track how many strokes and heart attacks are suffered by people on low-salt diets, the results aren’t nearly as neat or encouraging, as noted recently in JAMA by Michael H. Alderman, a hypertension expert at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. A low-salt diet was associated with better clinical outcomes in only 5 of the 11 studies he considered; in the rest, the people on the low-salt diet fared either the same or worse.

'When you reduce salt,' Dr. Alderman said, 'you reduce blood pressure, but there can also be other adverse and unintended consequences [such as weight gain]. As more data have accumulated, it’s less and less supportive of the case for salt reduction, but the advocates seem more determined than ever to change policy.' Before changing public policy, Dr. Alderman and Dr. McCarron suggest trying something new: a rigorous test of the low-salt diet in a randomized clinical trial."

I agree a rigorous clinical trial is warranted, but I still think Americans' palates are too desensitized to salt (as well as sugar) and that reducing it is a good idea; what do you think?

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