The science cited by lobbyists for universal salt reduction simply isn’t compelling. Not only have they failed to prove the benefits of such a drastic measure, but they’ve also ignored the inevitable unintended negative side effects. And now a new study proves just that: Low sodium diets can be downright dangerous.
The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, concluded that people whose diets have the least salt are more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those whose diets have the most. This evidence flies in the face of the common food myth that eating lots of salty foods causes heart disease. The study’s lead author concluded:
Our findings do again raise questions about the usefulness or even safety of universal recommendations for lower salt diets for all individuals, regardless of their blood pressure status or other health characteristics.
Salt isn’t the only ingredient that has unfairly found itself with a bad reputation. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is another. For years, nutrition activists have campaigned against the corn-based sweetener, claiming that its beet-derived cousin, table sugar, was supposedly healthier because it was “natural.” But according to decades of scientific research, HFCS affects our bodies in the same way as regular sugar. A 2006 story in The New York Times noted:
Many scientists say that there is little data to back up the demonization of high-fructose corn syrup, and that links between [HFCS] and obesity are based upon misperceptions and unproved theories, or are simply coincidental.
These culinary controversies are merely symptoms of the growing tension between the goals of public health activists and the requirements of sound science.