UT Professor Challenges Canadian Salt Study Results

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A University of Tennessee physician who has written low-salt cookbooks takes issue with a Canadian report that says most people shouldn’t worry about salt in their diets.

“The (Canadian) study would have to be compared and proved at other institutions before one could give it serious credence,” Dr. James C. Hunt of UT-Memphis said Thursday.

Based on much research, the U.S. government in the early 1980s began warning Americans to reduce their use of salt.

“It’s highly improbable that the many, many studies that have been done are flawed,” said Hunt, a University Distinguished Professor and former chancellor of UT-Memphis.

Hunt said he’s convinced that weight control and dietary sodium control are “exceedingly important in the control of high blood pressure.”

Half the Americans who take blood pressure medication would not need that medicine if they properly controlled their diet, Hunt said.

“We feel people can probably stop worrying about salt,” the study’s co-director, epidemiologist and high blood pressure specialist Alexander Logan wrote in the report.

“The intake of sodium in the American diet is exceedingly high, averaging 4 to 5 grams of sodium, which is more than twice what you would get in table salt,” Hunt said.

“To control the American diet, it’s necessary to eliminate or sharply restrict certain foods. One of those foods is soup. The soup companies are very reluctant to cut the sodium content in their food because this is what gives it a very distinctive taste,” he said.

“Anytime we have someone with high blood pressure who needs to control their blood pressure or to help control it with nutritional approaches, they really must eliminate the high-sodium content of soups, and that’s almost every soup.”

The study was funded, in part, by Campbell’s Soup Co., which has been criticized by the federal government and interest groups for touting the health benefits of its salt-laden soups.

Logan said Campbell’s funding did not influence the report’s conclusions.

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