You probably saw the recent headlines. Salt is no longer the enemy. Newly published research, they said, “proved” salt isn’t the health threat we thought. Many articles seemed to say there’s no need to watch your salt intake.
I’m sure a lot of people breathed a sigh of relief when they heard this news. But there’s just one problem. The headlines got it wrong.
Many studies have shown the risks of getting too much salt. And this new study didn’t really contradict the earlier research.
In fact, this new “study” wasn’t a study at all. It was a review. In other words, the authors compared several studies on salt to reach their conclusions. And here’s what they actually said…
They only found 7 studies that met their needs for this review. These 7 studies – out of hundreds – didn’t show a link between a high-salt diet and certain types of heart trouble. But the authors said there simply wasn’t enough data in these studies to come to any conclusions.1
That’s a far cry from what the headlines were saying.
So what’s the real story with salt? Here’s what you need to know …
First, Americans use a lot of salt. Experts say you need about 2,000 – 2,400 mg of salt a day – even less if you’re over 50. But most Americans get 3,600 – 4,800 mg daily. That’s twice the amount you need. And it’s a lot of extra sodium.
Your kidneys normally balance the amount of sodium in your body. But if you get too much sodium, it can overwhelm your kidneys. This excess sodium ends up in your bloodstream, drawing water with it. So your blood pressure goes up.
All that extra sodium can lead to kidney trouble, heart problems, and may even disrupt delivery of blood to your brain.
But cutting down on salt can cut your risk of these problems. Scientists at the University of California have even put a number on the benefit. They found that cutting about half of the extra salt out of our diets could save up to 92,000 lives a year. And it could save $24 billion dollars in health-care costs, too.2
Believe it or not, the best was to cut salt isn’t by putting less on your food.
You see, table salt is your #1 source of iodine. And iodine is critical to thyroid health. So, unless you regularly eat seaweed – which is rich in iodine – a little table salt may be healthy.
If you’re like most Americans, the bulk of the sodium in your diet doesn’t come from table salt anyway. It comes from processed foods and restaurant meals. Restaurants and food companies use a lot of salt, because it brings out the flavors in food.
And all that salt adds up quickly. Let’s take a quick look at a typical day…
- Breakfast – Orange juice (1 mg), 3-1/2” plain bagel (279 mg) and cream cheese (43 mg). That’s 323 mg so far.
- Mid-morning snack – Blueberry muffin (250 mg) and diet cola (55 mg). You’re up to 628 mg, with two meals to go.
- Lunch – Ham sandwich on wheat bread (897 mg), a 1-oz bag of potato chips (168 mg) and another diet cola (55 mg). That’s 1,120 mg, bringing your tally up to 1,748 mg.
- Supper – 1 cup of baked beans (850 mg) and a hot dog (513 mg). For dessert, 2 low-fat chocolate chip cookies (38 mg) and a glass of low-fat milk (100 mg). That brings your daily total to a whopping 3,249 mg… well over the 2,000 – 2,400 mg of sodium you need.
So how do you avoid sodium overload? Fresh, unprocessed foods are your best defense. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and lean protein. But remember to avoid processed meats like corned beef and ham. They’re loaded with sodium.
Best Life Herbals Wellness Team
Best Life Herbals
1 Taylor, R.S., et al, “Reduced dietary salt for the prevention of cardiovascular disease,” Cochrane Library. July 2011;7.
2 Bibbins-Domingo, K., et al, “Projected effect of dietary salt reductions on future cardiovascular disease,” N Engl J Med. Feb 18, 2010;362(7):590-599.