Conventional wisdom says too much salt is bad because it can lead to high blood pressure.
And now a new 25-year study finds that salt—even just a bit—may increase your risk of premature death.
The research found that if you normally have about 1.5 teaspoons of salt daily, adding just slightly less than a half teaspoon (1,000 milligrams) more a day can increase your odds of dying early by 12 percent. And, the risk continues to climb 12 percent for each 1,000 milligrams of salt you add to your daily diet.
There was a potential bit of good news from the study, however.
Cutting back on your salt consumption may extend your life. The study showed that restricting salt seemed to lower the risk of dying prematurely by 15 percent. However, this finding didn’t reach statistical significance, the researchers said.
“Consuming lower levels of sodium, as advocated by the American Heart Association and the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, will lead to lower blood pressure, lower risk of cardiovascular disease and lower subsequent mortality,” said lead researcher Nancy Cook. She’s a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
Specifically, Cook’s team found that over 24 years, people who consumed less than 1 teaspoon (2,300 mg of salt a day) had a 25 percent lower risk of dying, compared with those who consumed almost 1.5 teaspoons (3,600 mg/day).
The American Heart Association (AHA) says that the average American consumes 3,400 mg of salt a day.