The CDC is urging primary care physicians to talk to patients about ways to lower their sodium intake by about a quarter teaspoon of salt each day. Their senior scientist said that this would ” prevent thousands of deaths from cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke a year and save billions in health care dollars”. This came from an article in the American Medical News. The article goes on to talk about how ubiquitous sodium is in our foods. Mary Cogswell co-wrote a study showing that ten types of food account for 44% of the dietary sodium that Americans consume each day. She said, “sodium consumption is directly related to hypertension, which is a primary risk factor for heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. That’s why it’s really important to identify the food sources.” Here is the problem. I am not sure she isn’t just talking out her arse. More and more we are finding that salt really isn’t the culprit in these problems. A recent European study last May that was published in JAMA showed that people who ate lots of salt were not more likely to get high blood pressure and were less likely to die of heart disease than those with a low salt intake. That author stated that “it’s clear that one should be very careful in advocating generalized reduction in sodium intake in the population at large. There might be some benefits, but there might also be some adverse effects.”
So let’s just break this down. Cogswell uses old research claiming that sodium is directly related to hypertension. She then finds that a ton of food we eat has lots of sodium (as well as carbs and bad fats) and she connects the wrong dots. And this is from the head of the CDC?