Most of us have heard that reducing salt (sodium) intake is supposed to be good for us, although even that’s debatable. Fewer have heard that higher potassium may healthful. Those diet characteristics—low sodium and high potassium—are naturally incorporated into the Paleolithic diet (aka Stone Age, caveman, hunter-gatherer or paleo diet).
The association between sodium restriction and lower rates of cardiovascular disease and mortality is a confusing mess. My gut feeling is that strict sodium avoidance is important for only 20% of the population, at most.
But make no mistake: If I were on the cusp of drug therapy for high blood pressure, I’d cut my sodium to 3 grams a day, lose excess weight, increase my potassium consumption, and get regular exercise, all in an effort to avoid drugs. (If my blood pressure was 170/103 or higher, I’d go on drugs, make all those lifestyle changes, then try to reduce my drugs later.)
However, the assertion that reduced salt intake will have beneficial effects on disease outcomes contradicts the results of a 2011 meta-analysis, which failed to show significant relationships between reduced salt intake and mortality or cardiovascular outcomes.