London: For years, doctors have been saying that too much salt is bad for health. Yet, a new study claims that it's safe to eat and cutting its daily intake does nothing to lower the risk of developing heart disease.

High levels of salt have long been linked to a greater risk of developing hypertension, heart attacks and strokes.

It is reported that now, researchers at the University of Exeter claim to have found evidence that although blood pressure is reduced when salt intake is cut, there is actually no long-term health benefits.

They reviewed seven researches that looked at 6,489 people, which they said was a large enough set of data from which to draw conclusions.

Most researches recommended a reduction of 50 percent of normal salt intake. A person's daily salt intake from the research papers reviewed was on average 8-9g a day, so the reduction was to around 4g.

But this had no long-term health benefits that may usually be expected from eating less salt, findings revealed.

"Intensive support and encouragement to reduce salt intake did lead to a reduction in salt eaten and a small reduction in blood pressure after more than six months. What we wanted to see was whether this dietary change also reduced a person's risk of dying or suffering from cardiovascular events," lead author Prof Rod Taylor said.

Most experts say too much salt has detrimental health effects and cutting one's intake may have beneficial effects in people with normal and high blood pressure. But Prof Taylor said he could not find enough evidence for the theory.

He said, "We believe that we didn't see big benefits in this study because the people in the trials we analysed only reduced their salt intake by a moderate amount, so the effect on blood pressure and heart disease was not large.

"(But) it's really important that we do some large research trials to get a full understanding of the benefits and risks of reducing salt intake."

The findings have been published in the latest edition of 'The Cochrane Library' journal.

(Agencies)