Salt and Heart health

You may have noticed a couple of weeks ago so the joyful news that doctors have declared salt to not be a problem, and you can have all you want.

That’s unfortunate. The stories were taken from a press release that accompanied the study’s release documents, and was heavily drummed up by the salt association (yes, there is an association for promoting everything, including salt).

The actual study findings show a 20% decrease in cardiovascular events for people at risk for heart problems. You’re at risk for heart problems if anybody in your family died of a heart problem or if you are, or plan to be, over 50. So that’s pretty much everybody.

The people who do not benefit from salt restriction, and who should not restrict their salt without evaluation and monitoring, are people with low blood pressure or people who are are already far along with heart failure and are taking large amounts of diurectics, both of which groups, if they’ve been told by their doc to not limit salt, should not.

For everybody else, know that sodium is the only macronutrient for which the recommended daily amount is a maximum, an amount not to consume more than. That’s on purpose. Salt has been implicated in heart and circulatory issues for nearly 100 years, with cause.

The very best practice on salt is to not have any in the house; you’ll get enough just from the background sodium levels in your food. If you do use salt, use just a little at the table, not in cooking. We realize that some foods (i.e. bread) need a small amount of salt to stabilize a reaction, and that’s ok. But in general, no, you don’t get a sudden free pass on salt.

It also bears repeating: the reason why you keep reading DO eat this, then DON’T eat this, is that the popular press reports every medical test result that’s interesting to them, but overall you want to have a preponderance of results lined up along the same lines as you, rather than just one study.


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