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A new study that followed more than 2,600 men and women for 16 years found that consuming less sodium wasn't associated with lower blood pressure. The new findings call into question the sodium limits recommended by the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting sodium intake to 2300 milligrams a day for healthy people. For the study, the researchers followed 2632 men and women ages 30 to 64 years old who were part of the Framingham Offspring Study. The participants had normal blood pressure at the study's start. However, over the next 16 years, the researchers found that the study participants who consumed less than 2500 milligrams of sodium a day had higher blood pressure than participants who consumed higher amounts of sodium.
The researchers also found that people in the study who had higher intakes of potassium, calcium and magnesium exhibited lower blood pressure over the long term. In Framingham, people with higher combined intakes of sodium (3717 milligrams per day on average) and potassium (3211 milligrams per day on average on average) had the lowest blood pressure.
"This study and others point to the importance of higher potassium intakes, in particular, on blood pressure and probably cardiovascular outcomes as well," said the author. "I hope that this research will help refocus the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans on the importance of increasing intakes of foods rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium for the purpose of maintaining a healthy blood pressure."
The author says that there is likely a subset of people sensitive to salt who would benefit from lowering sodium intake, but more research is needed to develop easier methods to screen for salt sensitivity and to determine appropriate guidelines for intakes of sodium and potassium in this salt-sensitive group of people.
REFERENCE: Experimental Biology 2017. "Low-sodium diet might not lower blood pressure: Findings from large, 16-year study contradict sodium limits in Dietary Guidelines for Americans." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 April 2017. .