Salt Wasn't So Serious for Blood Pressure

Blood pressure in teen girls may be helped by potassium, unaffected by sodium

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Many Americans eat more salt than dietary guidelines recommend. New evidence suggests that salt may not be as serious a threat to one group of patients' blood pressure as once thought.

A new study found that high salt intake didn't appear to affect teen girls’ blood pressure. Also, eating more potassium was tied to lower blood pressure in this group.

The authors of this study followed adolescent girls for 10 years to see how their diets affected their blood pressure levels. They found no evidence that eating more salt increased blood pressure.

“This study emphasizes the need to develop methods for estimating salt sensitivity to be used in future studies of high-risk populations and points to the potential health risks associated with the existing low dietary potassium intakes among U.S. children and adolescents,“ wrote the study authors, led by Lynn L. Moore, DSc, of the Boston University School of Medicine.

High blood pressure may increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, and other heart and blood problems. The American Heart Association recommends that patients eat no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day to keep their hearts healthy.

According to Dr. Moore and team, most Americans consume too much salt, which may lead to an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart problems.

This study looked specifically at how sodium and potassium intake might affect blood pressure among teen girls.

These researchers recruited 2,185 9- to 10-year-old girls. They followed up with them regularly for 10 years to check in on their eating habits and blood pressures.

Most of the girls consumed more than 2,500 milligrams of sodium per day. However, consuming a high amount of sodium did not appear to have a negative effect on blood pressure measurements. But eating potassium seemed to keep blood pressure lower.

Compared with girls who ate less than 1,800 daily milligrams of potassium, those who ate 2,400 milligrams or more each day had lower blood pressure by the end of this study.

“Potassium intake was more strongly and consistently associated with lower blood pressures from later childhood through adolescence” than sodium intake, Dr. Moore and team wrote.

Dr. Moore and team noted that this study only looked at young girls, so the results may not apply to other groups. Patients should speak with their doctors to determine a heart-healthy diet for them.

This study was published April 27 in JAMA Pediatrics.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the National Dairy Council and the Dairy Council of California funded this research. Dr. Moore and team disclosed no conflicts of interest.


Review Date: 
April 24, 2015
Last Updated:
April 30, 2015