Quick Links: Don’t Pass On the Salt

Last week, the NY Times discussed a study (here) that found:

…that the less salt people ate, the more likely they were to die of heart disease — 50 people in the lowest third of salt consumption (2.5 grams of sodium per day) died during the study as compared with 24 in the medium group (3.9 grams of sodium per day) and 10 in the highest salt consumption group (6.0 grams of sodium per day).  And while those eating the most salt had, on average, a slight increase in systolic blood pressure — a 1.71-millimeter increase in pressure for each 2.5-gram increase in sodium per day — they were no more likely to develop hypertension.

Disclaimer: The minute I discovered that Cordain’s Paleo Diet avoided salt, I knew I could never follow it. You can have my bagels, my pasta, and my pie. But don’t touch my salt-lick!

Most of us Paleo/Primal folks aren’t eating processed foods anymore anyway, and I imagine that makes up the bulk of the salt in most Westerners’ diets. For some reason, I don’t think the salt shaker is to blame here.

What’s interesting to me is how there are now areas trying to legislate salt usage at restaurants, despite the complete lack of any evidence that salt causes health problems. There is a small percentage of high blood pressure sufferers who must avoid sodium, that we know. Cutting out sodium for everyone to help out this population sounds like a band-aid on a tumor if you ask me. Besides, if you have high blood pressure, chances are you are overweight and headed down the path of metabolic syndrome, so why not address the cause instead of the symptoms?

Also of interest is how this issue puts people in a fluff: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention felt so strongly that the study was flawed that they criticized it in an interview, something they normally do not do.” Who stands to gain anything from this? The only money trail I can see is that processed food manufacturers and restaurant lobbyists have an interest in keeping salt-restriction laws off the books. So why is there a faction pushing salt-restriction so hard?

See here for a discussion with Gary Taubes about the dietary salt fiasco.

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2 Responses to “Quick Links: Don’t Pass On the Salt”

  1. I am finding that by eating less salt, I’m getting the same response as I am getting by eating less sugars. Less cravings for either. I know salt is necessary in our diet, but the average Westerner gets way more than they need. When I do add in salt to my foods, it’s in a considered way. Does it work with the recipe? What other salt sources have I had today? I read that article, and I do think the study may be flawed, but only from certain standpoints. It’s not WRONG, it simply is far from definitive.

    Interesting commentary.

    • I agree, the study is by no means definitive, but jives with what I’ve heard from many doctors, including my husband. Now, I’m not sure about salt actually being protective against premature death, that seems like something that might not hold up under scrutiny.

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