Institute Of Medicine Says Findings Are Not Conclusive

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new report claims that there is no evidence that cutting your salt intake to less than a teaspoon a day improves your health.

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“I try to take out the salt because I have high blood pressure,” Astoria resident Rafael Negroni told CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock on Wednesday.

Negroni is one of 75 million Americans affected by high blood pressure. Experts say salt is a big part of the problem.

“Today, salt is in so many things that you’re really not aware of,” an Upper East Side resident told Murdock.

As Murdock reported, the average American consumes too much sodium. The recommended maximum sodium intake is 2,300 milligrams, which is a teaspoon. But a typical fast food burger and fries goes over that limit.

LINK: Institute Of Medicine Sodium Intake Study Brief (pdf)

That recommendation drops to 1,500 milligrams for people who are 51 and older, African-Americans, have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

But, a recent report suggests a dramatic reduction may not be the best option.

“What you would expect in terms of continuing decreased risk from decreased salt was not what we saw,” said Dr. Brian Strom, executive vice dean of the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania.

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At the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute of Medicine reviewed more than 30 recent research papers. Dr. Strom led the charge in looking at the role of salt on health.

“They raise questions about the possibility of harm from salt intakes that are too low,” Strom said.

Going from high levels of sodium to moderate levels reduced the risk of heart disease and stroke, but there was no benefit in going from moderate to low levels, the study found.

“There were suggestions at least of increased risk of those same outcomes: cardiovascular disease, stroke and death,” the doctor said.

Samuel J. Mann specializes in hypertension and wrote a book on the subject, but was not involved in the new study.

“If you are on a low sodium diet and not eating much of that bread and eating a high vegetable and fruit diet, not only are you reducing your sodium, you’re helping to reduce your weight, your cholesterol and your risk,” Dr. Mann told Murdock.

Mann contends everyone can benefit from a low sodium diet.

The Institute of Medicine admitted the studies, while well done, had flaws. But it added that while the findings were not conclusive, they offer opportunities for further research.

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