10/02/2003 - News

Low sodium does not raise cholesterol

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD


Reducing the amount of sodium in your diet does not, contrary to some suggestions, raise blood cholesterol.

It's well known that reducing salt - and therefore, sodium - intake might help to lower blood pressure and so reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack. But can your sodium levels go too low? Some small studies have suggested that a very low sodium diet might actually increase stroke risk, by raising levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.

To try to answer this question, researchers at Johns Hopkins University in the US looked at what happened when volunteers ate diets containing three different sodium levels: high (3,450 milligrams), corresponding to the typical American diet, intermediate (2,300 mg), consuming the recommended upper daily intake, and low (1,150 mg), which reduced sodium intake. These amounts were daily, per 2100 calories consumed.

This was all part of a study of the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), a long running investigation into the impact of a diet that is rich in fruit, vegetables, low fat dairy products, and low in red meat, fat and cholesterol. The researchers found that sodium level had no impact upon either total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL or 'bad') cholesterol or high density lipoprotein (HDL or 'good') cholesterol. So people can reduce the sodium in their diet without worrying whether it will harm them through raising cholesterol.


American Heart Association High Blood Pressure Meeting 25th September 2003

Created on: 10/02/2003
Reviewed on: 10/02/2003

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