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New Salt Study: Reducing Salt Levels May Not Always Be Helpful

Excessively lowering salt intake may not be good for one's health, a new study suggests, and could instead have adverse side effects.

While a number of governmental organizations have worked to drop the amount of salt contained in processed foods, the actual impact has been unsubstantial, according to a study published May 13 in JAMA Internal Medicine. The average amount of salt contained in packaged, processed foods only decreased by 3.5 percent, the study indicates, while sodium content in restaurant food increased by 2.6 percent.

"The strategy of relying on the food industry to voluntarily reduce sodium has proven to be a public health disaster," author and Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) executive director Michael F. Jacobson said in a press release.

But at the same time, a study conducted by the Institute for Medicine has declared that dropping sodium content in excess in one's diet could also pose health side affects. While the study maintains that Americans still consume far too much salt and are in excess of the recommended 2,300 milligram maximum- it also suggests that those who have gone to great extents to severely reduce the amount of salt in their diet have not benefited medically.

"We're not saying we shouldn't be lowering excessive salt intake," Dr. Brian Strom of the University of Pennsylvania, who led the IOM committee, told the Associated Press. But below 2,300 mg a day, "there is simply a lack of data that shows it is beneficial."

The American Heart Association maintains that people should consume no more that 1,500 mg of sodium per day. The average American consumes about 3,400 mg. Many are still convinced that the large sodium intakes are resulting in numerous health problems.

"The current high levels of sodium in packaged and restaurant foods, if not reduced, will likely cause at least one million deaths and $100 billion in health-care costs in the coming decade," author Dr. Stephen Havas, professor of preventative medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said in a press release.

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