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
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.