Is too much salt making your heart fail… or too little?

The salt naysayers are at it again!

And now they’ve come up with yet another variation on their scare-tactics theme: that heart failure may be the fault of salt as well.

Add that to the long list of reasons sodium will send you to an early grave, and it’s enough to make you toss your salt shaker out the window.

That is, if you haven’t already!

But slashing your intake of this essential mineral to critically low levels will do a lot more to hurt your health than it will to help it.

And that’s doubly true where heart failure is concerned.

The Great Salt Myth

I seriously think these Finnish researchers have been spending too much time in the sauna!

A research professor at the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, Pekka Jousilahti, and his team carefully measured vital information to reach their conclusion that “high salt intake markedly increases the risk of heart failure.”

That, apparently, was based on 121 of those in his study eventually developing the condition (which amounts to less than 3 percent of the participants in this research), as well as sodium amounts that almost hit 14,000 mg a day.

But never mind those little details! The bottom line, as Jousilahti announced to the media, is: “The heart does not like salt.”

Oh, really?

Actually, other very credible research shows that the heart not only likes salt, but it needs it as well.

For example:

  • A 2015 study published in the Journal of Cardiac Failure found that “a low-sodium diet may be harmful” for patients with congestive heart failure (CHF).
  • An Institute of Medicine panel determined in 2013 that low salt intake “may lead to a greater risk of adverse health effects” for those with CHF.
  • And a study in The American Journal of Medicine that same year even declared in its headline, “Advising low sodium diets seems misguided and potentially dangerous.”

So, just how much sodium should you be getting to protect your heart and not hurt it? Researchers have found that the body typically requires 3,000 to 6,000 mg on a daily basis — and if it doesn’t get enough, it compensates by producing a hormone that damages blood vessels.

A too-low intake of sodium (such as the American Heart Association’s recommendation of 1,500 mg a day) can also contribute to insulin resistance, boost artery-damaging triglycerides and cause dementia symptoms.

And recently, scientists at the Boston University School of Medicine came to some other startling conclusions where salt is concerned.

After following over 2,600 men and women for 16 years, Dr. Lynn Moore and her team discovered that carefully counting out your salt intake to conform to ridiculously low guidelines won’t lower your blood pressure or even do a thing for your health.

In fact, those who took in under 2,500 mg a day had higher blood pressure readings than those who consumed much more!

Dr. Moore’s conclusion is that these findings support “other studies that have questioned the wisdom of low dietary sodium intakes.”

Okay, you might say that it’s not unusual for different researchers to come to wildly different conclusions. But where salt is concerned, it looks like most experts are on the side of sodium — and making a valiant attempt to reverse decades of bad advice.

And as Dr. Moore pointed out, loading up on foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium will do more to help you maintain a healthy heart and good blood-pressure readings than cutting out sodium will.

Which is why anytime you hear that low-salt advice being tossed around, no matter how often it’s repeated, you should take it with a grain of salt!

“High salt intake may double heart failure risk” HealthDay, August 28, 2017,