The excellent science writer Gary Taubes wrote a very interesting op-ed piece in the Sunday New York Times (June 3, 2012) about salt. The crux of the discussion is this: The conventional wisdom for decades is that salt is bad and is a cause of high blood pressure, causes hypertension and heart disease, and raises the risk of premature death. However, Taubes points out that the evidence of these negative side effects of salt are significantly overblown and, possibly, just flat out incorrect.
The eat-less-salt recommendation, he suggests, is based on a suspect interpretation of the science. He indicates these recommendations are “surprisingly controversial — and difficult to defend”…”because the evidence to support it has always been so weak.”
In fact, Taubes says that a salt restricted diet may increase our risk of dying prematurely. He says if people follow the recommendations from the U.S.D.A and C.D.C. (Center for Disease Control) for less salt in our diets, we may be harming ourselves, not helping.
Taubes points out that in 1972 a paper in The New England Journal of Medicine reported that the less salt people ingested, they seemed to end up with more heart disease. He adds that while there was a lot of focus on the benefits of salt restriction, there was little research done on the dangers of reduced salt consumption.
Taubes reports that four years ago, Italian researchers indicated the results of clinical trials, all of which showed that for patients with heart failure, reducing salt consumption increased the risk of death.