About a week before I know I have to be in a bikini, I usually do two things: first, I panic knowing I procrastinated getting my ass in shape the entire month prior and then I immediately get rid of all sodium-rich food in my apartment. I figure cutting salt is not only a good last-ditch attempt at getting rid of excess bloat, but it’s also doing my heart some good. Well, according to a new study of salt intake in the Journal of the American Medical Association, I figured wrong.
Sure, a reduced-salt diet may help me temporarily look better in a bikini, but apparently it’s not going to do much to curb heart risks. The Belgian study tested almost 3,700 people over an 8-year period, and found that the people with the lowest salt intake (2,500 mg. per day vs. 6,000 mg. a day) had the highest rate of death from heart disease. Obviously these findings are causing quite the stir in medical circles, as they differ greatly from previous research and guidelines dictated by the federal government. The US recommended intake is 2,300 mg. a day for healthy individuals and 1,500 mg. for those who are more at risk.
So what does this mean for your diet? Absolutely nothing, if the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have anything to say about it. The Center’s medical director Peter Briss tells the New York Times, “At the moment, this study might need to be taken with a grain of salt.” Dr. Frank Sacks of the Harvard School of Public Health agrees that the study has a number of notable flaws, saying, “Its a problematic study… We shouldn’t be guiding any kind of public health decisions on it.”
My take on it is this: just because one study makes a claim that salt isn’t unhealthy, doesn’t mean we should run out and binge on chips and Chinesee. As wonderful as that idea sounds, there are consequence beyond potential heart problems. Think about any sodium-rich foods you eat they’re usually the worst ones for you in terms of fat and calories. So, you may not die of a heart attack, but there’s a good chance you’ll be on your way to obesity.