Is salt really bad for your heart?

To salt or not to salt? For decades health experts have been warning people to put down the salt shaker to reduce their risks of heart attack and stroke. But a new study finds that while cutting back on salt does in fact lower blood pressure, it can also boost cholesterol levels.

Published Wednesday, Danish researchers report in the American Journal of Hypertension that reducing sodium consumption led to a one percent drop in blood pressure in people who had normal pressure readings, and a 3.5 percent drop in those with hypertension.

But at the same time, people who reduced their salt intake also saw a 2.5 percent jump in cholesterol levels and a 7 percent increase in trigylcerides, which can boost risks for heart disease and diabetes.

Experts told health news site LiveScience that while the findings warrant further research, it's too soon to overturn the recommendations to keep salt levels low just yet. Too much sodium has been found to lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes, yet most people are consuming more than three times the daily minimum requirement of 1,500 mg of sodium a day.

In general, being mindful of sodium in your diet can increase your intake of fresh vs. canned or processed foods, which can give your overall health a boost. The Mayo Clinic also advises to opt for low sodium foods and use fresh herbs to flavor meals. The American Heart Association recommends selecting unsalted nuts, and avoiding adding salt and canned vegetables in favor of homemade dishes.

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