For ages the conventional wisdom has been that high salt intake leads to high blood pressure, and high blood pressure ups your risk of death. And recent research published in the American Heart Association medical journal Circulation, seems to confirm that. Three separate teams of researchers analyzed studies and concluded that reducing sodium consumption could prevent half a million Americans from dying prematurely over a decade.
But the link between food and high blood pressure is much more complex than this study would have us believe, as this LA Times article makes clear. The researchers who came up with that dramatic "less salt would save half a million lives" stat ignored conflicting research which found that people on low salt diet were at increased risk of death, and that high salt intake didn't hurt people's cardiovascular health.
So is salt an assassin, or a health food? And why do we not have this one decided yet? I get why it takes a while to figure out if, say, aspartame is bad for us, but salt's been around forever! If this makes you want to salt the rim of margarita glass and pour yourself a stiff one, don't do that (for one thing, everybody agrees that the sugar in margaritas is a big don't).
Instead, focus on the fact that the anti-salt study advises that we cut back on salt through processed and packaged foods. Since eating less of those is something we should be doing anyway, there's nothing confusing or controversial about that. (This article closely echoes one I did last week about the controversy surrounding polyunsaturated oils and whether they're great for your heart or terrible for it.)
And if you do add salt to your food, know that just about every natural health expert I've ever spoken with recommends unprocessed sea salt over table salt. For instance, Kevin Dobrzynski, author of The HypoThyroid Diet recommends people consume natural sea salt for its mineral content, and not only does he not restrict it in his diet, he actually adds a quarter teaspoon of Celtic sea salt to his water first thing in the morning and before bed. And cardiac naturopath Decker Weiss says that consuming natural sea salt is beneficial for fighting "estrogen dominance" as well as other health issues, because the natural iodine sea salt contains is superior to iodine that's artificially added to iodized table salt.
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