Aug 22, 2014

Another Salt Study

Adding to the library of salt studies is yet a new one which again finds that salt is not that bad and that too little salt may be as bad for us as too much salt. The same can be said for calories or carbohydrates.

More than 100,000 people from the general public in 17 countries were observed for nearly four years and sodium levels were determined from urine tests. The researchers found people who consume 3 to 6 grams of sodium a day (salt contains about 39% sodium by weight) had the lowest risk of heart problems or death from any cause. About three-fourths of the world's population is in the ideal range, including the US, which averages 4 grams a day salt consumption.

The new study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests the US's daily consumption of about 3,400 milligrams is not only perfectly fine, but may be healthier than abstaining. It suggests eaters should shoot for between 3,000 and 6,000 mg of salt each day. Dr. Suzanne Oparil, a cardiologist at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, who wrote an editorial accompanying the publication, added, "Japan, one of the highest salt consumers, has one of the longest lifespans."

Table salt also contains iodine, and desiccants to keep it from clumping. Sodium is essential for human nutrition, but too much sodium or too little sodium raises health risks. Sodium levels generally correlate with the risk of high blood pressure, but correlation (are related) is not causality (one causes the other). Chlorine is also important to overall health. Our bodies, like salt water swimming pools separate sodium from chlorine for use.

Potassium, found in vegetables and fruits appears to lower blood pressure and heart risks, and offsets sodium's effect. Potatoes, bananas, avocados, leafy greens, nuts, apricots, salmon, and mushrooms are high in potassium.

Determining that worldwide deaths are caused by one ingredient, without relation to complete diet, or other factors, is like saying global warming is caused only by CO2, or that drinking only diet soda makes us fat.

As with all studies, results 'should be taken with a grain of salt'. Reducing or increasing one item from the panoply of food we ingest is interesting fodder for highly funded studies, but taking results too seriously can be hazardous to our health.

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