Arguments over salt and health have broken out on both sides of the Atlantic, with dissenting opinions among individual experts and even professional societies. What’s going on?
New IOM report
The latest round of the salt controversy was triggered by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in the United States, a very conservative and scientific organisation. Their latest report had two key messages, the first confirming the positive association between high sodium intakes, high blood pressure and the risk for heart disease. No drama there. The contentious finding was that there was not a strong scientific case for shifting from moderate to low salt intake.
Just to get your bearings, a high sodium intake is considered to be about 5000 mg/day – the average intake in China. Intakes in many western countries are moderate by comparison, about 3300-3700 mg/day. However, the upper limit of sodium intake recommended in Australia’s Nutrient Reference Values is only 2300mg/day, the same figure recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Just last week the European Society of Hypertension and the European Society of Cardiology published new guidelines for the management of hypertension, recommending sodium intakes in the range of approximately 2000-2300 mg/day. The American Heart Association goes even further, recommending just 1500 mg/day.