Are low-salt diets necessary (or healthy) for most people?

As Americans have become more aware over the years of nutrition-related health issues, salt has emerged as a major villain in many people’s minds. So much so that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes reducing the U.S. population’s consumption of sodium as “a national priority.” The CDC warns that too much salt can raise people’s blood pressure, putting them at greater risk for heart disease and stroke, among other evils.

But some skeptics believe the threat posed by salt is overblown. Indeed, some say too broad a drive against salt poses its own health risks.

Arguing in favor of a broad reduction in Americans’ salt consumption is Elliott Antman, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and president of the American Heart Association. Warning of the possible health consequences of an overzealous antisalt drive is David A. McCarron, an adjunct professor in the University of California-Davis Department of Nutrition and chairman-elect of the American Society for Nutrition’s Medical/Nutrition Council.

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