There are many salt myths and misconceptions. Scientists and doctors have long been recommending us to reduce our salt intake, so it is hard to swallow when you hear some research shows that a low-salt diet doesn’t reduce high blood pressure. The most important is the type of salt you are consuming and it does make a world of difference for your health. (1)
Fears over salt and also the salt myths first came up more than a century ago.
French doctors, in 1904 reported that six of their patients with high blood pressure were on a high salt diet.
In the 1970s worries escalated when Lewis Dahl, a physician at the Brookhaven National Laboratory’s claimed that he had “unequivocal” proof that salt causes hypertension. For his research, he used rats and increased their blood pressure by feeding them the equivalent of human intake of 500 grams sodium a day. (2) (Americans by average consume 8.5 grams of salt or 3.4 grams of sodium, a day.)
British Medical Journal in 1985 published a study in which were involved people that had a family history of high blood pressure. The participants limited their salt intake for eight weeks. At the end of the study, there were no differences found in their blood pressure readings. (3)
A meta-analysis in the American Journal of Hypertension of seven studies involving 6,250 subjects found no hard evidence that cutting salt intake lowers the risk of strokes, heart attacks, or death in people with high or normal blood pressure. Publishing in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that study subjects who excreted less sodium in their urine had a greater risk of dying from heart disease.
So, is salt really bad for you?
Here are three common salt myths that need debunking:
Myth No.1: If you eliminate salt you’ll eliminate high blood pressure.
The Real Fact: Cut processed foods instead.
If you eat a lot of processed foods or you’re not eating a healthy diet of whole unprocessed foods, then you’re very likely taking in way too much added salt. And this way, yes, your blood pressure may suffer. Processed foods are full of salt, though you are probably not even registering them as salty.
Dietitian Katherine Zeratsky explains that salt is used to kill bacteria and prevent spoilage in processed foods. It also disguises unwanted tastes and adds flavor in food. The American Heart Association recommends daily salt intake of 2,300 mg. That is the amount of salt we consume in just an average amount of processed foods every day.
Salt is everywhere. It is one of the cheapest flavor enhancers. And we’re not just talking about the obvious stuff like chips and pretzels. Everyday staples like bread, deli meats, spaghetti sauce, canned foods, soups, cereal, condiments, vegetable juices, and more contain loads of salt. So, if you’re taking this stuff regularly, you will not solve your problems with blood pressure problems. It won’t even be helpful if you switch to “low salt” versions or start counting grains of salt. Instead, get rid of the processed foods.
Processed foods are also full of sugar and they drive obesity. In turn, this increases blood pressure and the risk of stroke and heart attack.
Professor AH Lichtenstein from the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee says, if people eat a diet that includes plenty of whole grains, fish, fruits, and vegetables, they probably won’t be consuming a lot of sodium. (4)
Get rid of all processed foods that are full of salt and sugar and replace them with whole, fresh unprocessed foods such as plants and pasture-raised meats. As a result, your blood pressure will quickly return to a healthier range.
Myth No.2: Salt has no nutritional value
The Real Fact: It’s what’s inside that counts.
Demonized as an evil booster of blood pressure and nutritionally useless, sodium has not deserved that entire bad rap. It’s partially a question of semantics. Sodium and salt are slightly different in terms of their impact on the body and at the molecular level too.
Everyone should be careful and not too liberal with table salt. On the other hand, many biochemical processes need sodium including cell wall stability, muscle contractions, adrenal gland function, nerve stimulation, water, and pH balance regulation. It also assists with a number of your body’s chemical processes. Table salt is usually a heavily processed devitalized substance with about 40 percent sodium, plus a mix of iodine, anti-caking agents, sugar, and other chemicals. Sodium, as naturally occurring mineral, is found in nutritious sources such as fruits, vegetables, and meats from plant-eating, pasture-raised animals.
Myth No.3: If you want to add flavor switch to a salt substitute.
The Real Fact: Salt substitutes are dangerous and can have lethal effects.
Instead of getting rid of processed foods, many people hit the supermarket in search of something to mimic salt for their dulled taste buds. All of these substitutes tend to add a slightly bitter or metallic taste rather than a salty one. And it is not just about the taste. Most of the salt substitutes also contain potassium chloride. This can literally be lethal for those with cardiac issues, while in others it can trigger serious, potentially lethal kidney problems. Potassium chloride also interacts with over-the-counter and popular prescription meds (like aspirin, ibuprofen) causing severe reactions and even sudden death. This makes salt substitutes an anything-but-tasty trade-off.
Advice: If you want to add flavor as you cook, use organic herbs and spices. Many of them have positive health benefits. After the cooking is done, if needed, instead of table salt try adding small amounts of dried organic sea kelp, unrefined sea salt, and Himalayan salt. Also read about Black Salt Benefits Skin, Hair, Respiratory System And Much More.
Learn more about Sugar Myths And Real Facts – Is Sugar Really Bad For You?