Saturday, May 14, 2011

Low Salt Diet Increases Death Rate Over 500%

An article in The Journal of The American Medical Association (May 4, 2011. Vol. 305, N. 17) looked at the influence dietary salt had in cardiovascular disease. The authors studied 3681 subjects for a median of 7.9 years. What the researchers found made headlines in major newspapers.

The scientists reported that there was a direct, inverse linear correlation between the amount of salt ingested and the rate of cardiovascular deaths. What that means is that as salt intake went up, cardiovascular deaths went down. They stratified the subjects into three groups; a low, medium and high salt intake group. The death rates declined as the subjects ate more salt: from 4.1% in the lowest group to 1.9% in the medium group and 0.8% in the highest group.

For those who have read my book, Salt Your Way to Health, there really wasn’t anything new in this study. However, the media (at had large headlines proclaiming, “Eating less salt doesn’t cut heart risks.” However, MSNBC missed it here. The headline should have read, “Eating less salt increases your cardiovascular death rate over 5x as compared to those who eat a high salt diet.”

The human body was designed to crave and utilize salt. We have hundreds of grams of salt in our bodies at any one time. As I showed you above, eating a low salt diet does not decrease your risk for heart disease, it actually increases it—this has also been shown in many other studies. Furthermore, restricting salt to very low levels has almost no effect on blood pressure for the vast majority of people.

Finally, it is important to eat the right kind of salt—unrefined salt. Unrefined salt contains over 80 minerals that are essential to the human body. I have successfully used unrefined salt in my medical practice for nearly 20 years. Unrefined salt actually helps to lower blood pressure. More information about salt can be found in my book, Salt Your Way to Health.

What is the take home message? Use the right salt—unrefined salt. Examples of inexpensive, well-tested brands of unrefined salt include Celtic Brand Sea Salt and Redmonds Real Salt. I have Celtic Brand Sea Salt available at my office:


  • At May 15, 2011 at 9:50 AM , Blogger LifeCoachAndy said...

    Dr. Brownstein, could you answer me the question. On low sodium diet kidney tubules stimulated by aldosteron have to reabsorb more sodium(to maintain its plasma concentration) at the expense of potassium, which is excreted. So could it be that low sodium intake leads to the loss of too much potassium. Low potasiusm intake has also been linked to CVD.

  • At May 15, 2011 at 1:35 PM , Blogger Dr. David Brownstein said...

    You are right, Lifecoachandy. Low potassium is just one of the many problems caused by low-salt diets. The solution? Don't eat a low salt diet and ensure you have adequate potassium intake. Unrefined salt is a good source of potassium.


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