Salt and Your Health: Study Links High Intake to Early Death

Does high salt intake lead to cardiovascular problems? According to a study released in June, it does. A ‘more accurate’ test measurement showed a direct link between consuming high amounts of salt and an elevated risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

The study, conducted by scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, used multiple measurements to determine just how salt might affect cardiovascular health. The team writes in the International Journal of Epidemiology that salt intake has been inaccurately determined in the past.

Dr. Nancy Cook, a biostatistician in the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said in a news release:

“Sodium is notoriously hard to measure. Sodium is hidden – you often don’t know how much of it you’re eating, which makes it hard to estimate how much a person has consumed from a dietary questionnaire.”

While there are numerous ways to measure sodium excretions, those methods aren’t always accurate, Cook said.

In order to accurately measure sodium levels in urine, the urine must be tested over 24 hours. This is because sodium levels in urine can fluctuate throughout the day. The researchers also say that samples should be taken on multiple days because sodium consumption can vary from day to day.

Cook and her colleagues used spot samples for the study, but they also utilized other methods, including the “gold standard” of analyzing an average of multiple, non-consecutive urine samples.

Additionally, the scientists analyzed records from participants in the Trials of Hypertension Prevention, which included 2,974 people with pre-hypertension aged 30-54 years. A total of 272 people died during the 24-year follow-up period.

The researchers’ updated method showed a direct linear relationship between increased sodium intake and increased risk of death. Using the gold standard testing method, the team found that the average sodium intake was 3,769 mg/d, and the average overestimated sodium intake by 1,297 mg/d.

The common Kawasaki formula used to judge salt intake showed a J-shaped curve, which suggests that both low and high levels of salt intake are linked to an increased risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease.

The authors wrote:

“Our findings indicate that inaccurate measurement of sodium intake could be an important contributor to the paradoxical J-shaped findings reported in some cohort studies. Epidemiological studies should not associate health outcomes with unreliable measurements of sodium intake.”

According to Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, too much sodium wreaks havoc on the kidneys and heart and forces the body to hold onto water to dilute the excess sodium. [2]

A combination of the amount of fluid surrounding cells and the volume of blood in the bloodstream forces the heart to work harder and puts increased pressure on blood vessels. Over time, this can lead to stiffening of blood vessels, resulting in hypertension, heart attack, and stroke.

Now, there is evidence to suggest that the type of salt a person consumes is more important than the amount they consume. Industrially-refined salt lacks the minerals the body needs to properly function, and that’s the kind of salt that gets dumped into processed foods.

Unrefined sea salt provides many health benefits that we’ve covered in the past. But you must make sure it is unrefined.

Furthermore, there are scientists who believe that the over-consumption of sodium is not the true cause of high blood pressure.


[1] UPI

[2] Newsmax

Stunner Study: Eating Salt Does NOT Cause Weight Gain

People have believed for years that eating salt makes you gain weight. The working theory behind this was that eating salt made you retain water and made you thirsty, which made you heavier. But a study by Vanderbilt University researchers turns that theory on its head. Salt consumption, it seems, does neither. [1]

It could even help you…lose weight?

The whole thing came about when German researcher Dr. Jens Titze conducted tests on Russian cosmonauts on the Mir space station. He noticed that in spite of consuming more salt on certain days, the space explorers drank less water. And despite drinking less water on certain days, the cosmonauts still urinated similar amounts.

Specifically, when the cosmonauts ate more sodium, they excreted more sodium. Yet, somehow, the amount of sodium in their blood did not change, and their urine volume increased. [2]

That could only mean that water was being produced without drinking. The cosmonauts were breaking down fat to produce fluids. [1]

Titze said:

“There was only one way to explain this phenomenon. The body had most likely generated or produced water when salt intake was high.” [1]

Further research revealed that mice ate 25% more just to maintain their body weight when they ate more salt. [3]

Source: Organic Facts

A starving body will burn its own fat to survive, and scientists know this. But it was shocking to find that something similar happens on a salty diet. [2]

Titze doesn’t recommend gorging on salty foods to lose weight. One of the other odd things he and his team noticed was that when the cosmonauts ate a salty diet, their thirst didn’t increase, but their hunger did. This fact is not surprising, considering that MSG – a concentrated form of salt added to many fast-food and pre-packed food items – makes you crave sugar and interferes with hormones that let you know when you feel full.

In other words, very salty foods make you want to keep eating and eating, but you never quite feel satisfied.

But avoiding salt for fear that it will make you fat appears to be misguided, the findings suggest. If you’re a healthy individual who avoids salt to avoid gaining weight, it may be having the opposite effect.

The Skinny on Salt

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that individuals consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, and some groups of people should consume no more than 1,500 mg. High sodium consumption has been linked to high blood pressure and strokes in the past. But is what we know about the health risks associated with eating too much salt becoming what we thought we knew?

Read: What – You Still Think Salt Consumption Causes High Blood Pressure?

In April 2017, a study by researchers at Boston University showed that high-salt diets don’t cause high blood pressure. In fact, participants who ate more than the recommended daily amount had better blood pressure than those who abstained from eating sodium. [4]

Study author Dr. Lynn Moore, an associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, said of the findings:

“We saw no evidence that a diet lower in sodium had any long-term beneficial effects on blood pressure. Our findings add to growing evidence that current recommendations for sodium intake may be misguided.” [4]


[1] Daily Mail

[2] The New York Times

[3] The Sun

[4] The Sun

Organic Facts

Poor Diet Caused Nearly Half of All Deaths in the U.S. in 2012

A study released earlier this year reveals that some 45% of all deaths in the U.S. in 2012 were due to “cardiometabolic disease,” or CMD – all because of the average diet. CMD encompasses heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. [1]

Researchers say that the largest number of diet-related CMD deaths are due to high consumption of sodium, processed meats, and sugar-sweetened drinks, and low intake of nuts and seeds, seafood omega-3 fats, and fruits and vegetables.

Related: Drinking ANY Sugar Increases Your Risk of Diabetes

Says first author Renata Micha, R.D., Ph.D., assistant research professor, Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy in Boston, Massachusetts:

“These results should help identify priorities, guide public health planning, and inform strategies to alter dietary habits and improve health.

Increased intakes of specific minimally processed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, vegetable oils, and decreased intakes of salt, processed meats and sugar-sweetened beverages appear to be key relevant priorities for dietary and policy recommendations. Future studies should evaluate the potential effects of specific interventions to address the diet-related cardiometabolic mortality and reduce disparities.” [2]

Published on 7 March 2017 in JAMAthe study found that more men than women die from diet-related causes. The researchers say that, generally speaking, the findings are consistent with the fact that men tend to have unhealthier eating habits. Additionally, there were a greater number of diet-related deaths among African-Americans and Hispanics compared with non-Hispanic whites. [1], [3]

According to Micha, the estimated number of deaths that were linked to not getting enough of the healthy foods listed was at least as substantial as the number of deaths associated with eating too much of the unhealthy foods listed.

Researchers report that the highest number of deaths was linked to high sodium intake; about 66,500 CMD deaths in 2012 were linked to eating too much salt, followed by (in order):

  • Not eating enough nuts and seeds (59,000 deaths)
  • Eating too much processed meats (58,000 deaths)
  • Eating too little seafood omega-3s (55,000 deaths)
  • Not eating enough vegetables (53,000 deaths)
  • Not eating enough fruits (52,500 deaths)
  • Drinking too many sugar-sweetened beverages (52,000 deaths) [1]

Read: Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Be the Key to Preventing Most Disease

The study did have its limitations. For instance, the studies the researchers used were observational, which don’t prove cause-and-effect. In addition, other dietary factors may have been at play, such as saturated fat and added sugar. And some dietary factors are potentially linked, like sodium and processed meats.

On a positive note, the researchers say that from 2002 to 2012, there were fewer diet-related CMD deaths due to insufficient polyunsaturated fats, nuts and seeds, and to excess sugary drinks. [1]


[1] Live Science

[2] Medscape

[3] CNN

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