If You’re Still Running Scared of Salt, Read This

Throughout our lives, we have heard – from many sources – that we must watch our salt intake, as too much salt may lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. However, more and more health experts are reporting that this notion is largely false, and based on loose science.

Sodium is an essential mineral, required for our bodies to function. Our cardiovascular, digestive and nervous systems require sodium. In fact, all of our cells do, as this mineral regulates the fluid which surrounds them. However, the nutritional value of salt has a lot to do with which type of salt you choose.

But what about salt and high blood pressure? The American Heart Association recommends a limit of 1.5 grams per day of sodium, in order to avoid cardiovascular risk. However, Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist at Scripps in La Jolla, California, has written on quite a bit of research which clarifies that this limit is too low.

Dr. Topol references a 2013 review by the Institute of Medicine, which found no evidence for the 1.5 gram per day limit set by the American Heart Association. He also points to a study and resulting graph compiled by the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) Group, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this year.

For their study, the PURE Group compiled data from 101,945 people across 17 countries, and found that there wasn’t a linear relationship between sodium intake and blood pressure. The graph shows that blood pressure only began to increase when an individual consumed 3.5 to 4 grams of sodium per day or more.

What is most noteworthy, however, is that the graph also shows that individuals who consumed less than 2 grams of sodium per day had even higher blood pressure than those who consumed over 4 grams, and even higher than that of individuals who consumed 12 grams per day!

On these findings Dr. Topol states, “the AHA guideline would lead – at least according to this latest research – to about a twofold risk for major adverse events.”

He continues, “I think there’s a big lesson here about guidelines without adequate evidence: They can do harm… Isn’t it about time to recognize that there shouldn’t be rules for populations? Some people are exquisitely sensitive to salt intake, while others are remarkably resistant. Average is over.”

A deficiency in sodium, also known as hyponatremia, can lead to other health hazards, as well. These include energy loss, headaches, confusion, kidney damage, brain swelling, heart failure and, in some cases, coma.

We are not saying that salt should be consumed by the spoonful – there is a point where it becomes dangerous. According to the PURE Group chart, it was around 5 grams per day. However, if you choose processed salt, including table salt, or processed sea and kosher salts, you may be putting your health at risk – and receiving very little of the benefits of real salt, as the nutrients are largely processed out.

Glass Salt ShakerTable salt often contains a wide range of chemical additives. They include fluoride, bleach, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and potassium iodide. Many processed sea salts and kosher salts contain these additives too, so be very careful to choose unprocessed salt. Processed salts, likely due to the chemicals they contain, have been linked to weight gain, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, mood disturbances and muscle cramps due to dehydration.

Unrefined sea salt, on the other hand, contains natural minerals, including calcium, boron, bromine, magnesium, silicon, potassium and strontium. These salts affect the body in a way that is almost the exact opposite of processed table salts: they are linked to regulating cardiovascular function, improving blood sugar levels, boosting mood, aiding in weight loss efforts and treating dehydration.

So, when it comes to salt, don’t go crazy, but have no fear… as long as you are eating real salt.

-The Alternative Daily

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