Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
12 Jun

Salt: What Is It Good For?

saltOther than saturated fat, I can’t think of a nutrient that’s been so universally maligned and demonized as salt. All the experts hate it and recommend that we get as little of it as possible. They even all seem to have their own little anti-salt slogans. The American Diabetes Association recommends between 2300 and 1500 mg of sodium per day (“Be Sodium Savvy“). The American Heart Association wants you eating less than 1500 mg per day (“Shaking the Salt Habit“) and claims that 97% of young people already eat way too much salt. The other ADA – the American Dietetic Association – also recommends between 2300 and 1500 mg, but their slogan is far inferior (“Slice Your Sodium Intake“). It’s quite the pile-on, isn’t it?

Why does salt strike mortal terror into the hearts of so many?

Back in the 1980s, a massive global study of salt intake and blood pressure called INTERSALT was undertaken. Overall, it showed a modest association between the two, but some groups, particularly the undeveloped, non-industrial peoples who had very little access to salt (and other trappings of industrialization), had blood pressure that was generally extremely low. Foremost among these groups were the Yanomami of the Amazon rainforest. The Yanomami have very low sodium excretion, which indicates very low sodium intake, and very low blood pressure. Even the elderly Yanomami enjoyed low blood pressure. This was convincing. I mean, it sounds convincing, right? Low salt intake, low lifelong incidence of hypertension – how much more cut and dry can you get? This low salt/low blood pressure connection seemed to also apply to other groups who happened to be living more traditional ways of life.

Except that there’s another non-industrialized group (and you only need one) whose slightly different results kinda muck up the Yanomami argument: the Kuna of Panama.

Among the Kuna, a tribe native to Panama, both salt intake and blood pressure were also historically low well into old age. To study whether the two variables were linked, researchers examined a group of “acculturated” Kuna with ample access to salt and an otherwise strict adherence to their traditional way of life. Little changed but the salt intake, in other words. But, despite consuming an average of 2.6 daily teaspoons of salt (and sometimes up to 6 teaspoons), the Kuna did not have hypertension, not even in old age. There was no change between the hypertensive statuses of 20 year old Kuna and 60 year old Kuna.

All in all, drastic reduction of sodium can reduce blood pressure by a few points. The evidence is pretty consistent on that. But the example of the Kuna shows that there’s way more to blood pressure than how much salt you eat, like how much potassium you eat.

Consider two recent Cochrane meta-analyses. The first, on sodium restriction and blood pressure, found that for people with hypertension the mean effect of sodium restriction was -5.39 mm Hg for systolic blood pressure and -2.82 mm Hg for diastolic blood pressure. In normotensive people, the figures were -2.42 mm Hg and -1.00 mm Hg, respectively. Decent reductions, I suppose, but what about potassium and blood pressure?

The upper intake of potassium was associated with over a 7-point drop in systolic blood pressure and a 2-point drop in diastolic blood pressure, but only in people with hypertension (the people who actually should lower blood pressure). Unfortunately, the official recommendations for sodium and potassium intake cannot be met simultaneously. Yep – the experts want you to eat in a way that is literally impossible to accomplish. Inspires confidence, doesn’t it?

Let’s forget about blood pressure for a second, because there’s also way more to health than the meager drops in blood pressure afforded by sodium restriction. Recent evidence suggests that for many people, all out salt reduction has an overall negative impact on several other aspects of health:

In 2011, one study showed that seven days on a low salt diet increased insulin resistance in healthy men and women when compared to a higher-salt diet.

Another study showed that while reducing salt moderately improved the blood pressure of hypertensive patients by a mere 4.18 and 1.98 points for systolic and diastolic, respectively (but not of people with normal blood pressure), it also had negative effects on multiple other health markers, including increased triglycerides and LDL and elevated stress hormones.

Another 2011 study found that eating a low salt diet (under 3 grams of sodium per day, or just over a teaspoon of salt) and a high salt diet (from 6-7 grams of sodium per day, or well over two teaspoons of salt) both increased the risk of stroke and heart attack, while eating between four and six grams of sodium, or about two teaspoons of salt, each day was associated with the lowest risk of cardiovascular incidents.

A recent study found that salt intake followed a J-curve, with low and high intakes increasing arterial plaque formation and a medium intake decreasing it.

Sodium depletion due to “low-sodium nutrition” has been shown to trigger overtraining-like symptoms, including hypertension and sleeping disorders.

The greatest health marker of all – being alive – also has an interesting association with salt intake. It seems that, time and time again, folks with a “medium” salt intake live longer than people who eat too little salt or too much salt. That amounts to roughly 4000 mg of sodium, or close to two teaspoons of regular salt.

Sodium intake affects other markers of vascular health beyond just blood pressure, too:

Greater sodium excretion in the urine (a common marker of sodium intake) may be positively associated with large arterial compliance. Large arterial compliance is a measure of arterial elasticity, or the ability of one’s arteries to handle fluctuations in pressure. Stiffer arteries are more prone to damage.

Low sodium status (whether dietarily-induced or caused by increased sodium loss) can also increase aldosterone, an adrenal hormone that seeks to preserve sodium in the body when it’s perceived to be scarce. High aldosterone levels are associated with insulin resistance, and aldosterone blockers are being explored as potential treatments of vascular disease and hypertension.

Well, what is salt good for?

That question honestly isn’t asked very often in the literature, but we can surmise some of the benefits just by looking at what happens in people on a low-sodium diet. If that connection persists, then adequate (not excess) salt probably helps prevent some of those problems, like insulin resistance, plaque formation, increased stress hormones, worsened blood lipids, and elevated aldosterone.

There are, however, outright positive effects of salt consumption, too:

Salt supports hydration, especially during exercise.

Of the electrolytes, potassium gets all the attention, even though sodium is just as important. Studies show that sodium loading before exercising in the heat increases fluid volume and reduces the physiological strain of the subsequent training. In other words, consuming sodium before training “involved less thermoregulatory and perceived strain during exercise and increased exercise capacity in warm conditions.” You can workout harder, longer, and more effectively with sufficient sodium in your diet. Salt loading also boosts performance in thermoneutral conditions, not just hot weather.

I remember drinking so much plain water during one race that I actually became dehydrated from pissing out all my electrolyte stores and almost passed out. From that point on, a few teaspoons of salt would solve the problem and prevent it from occurring again. The much ballyhooed bananas didn’t do it. Only pure, unmitigated salt did the trick. Hardcore ketogenic athlete/doctor Peter Attia does the same with his bullion cubes, which he credits for maintaining his performance.

Salt may help you cope with stress.

This is a guess on my part, based on several lines of evidence. First, salt has been shown to speed up cortisol clearance from the blood. The faster you clear cortisol, the quicker you recover from a stressor. If cortisol lingers, you “stay stressed.”

Second, there’s evidence that stress increases salt appetite. In lab mice, activation of the sympathetic nervous system by a stressor causes them to prefer salt water to plain water. Similar findings have been observed in rats subjected to stress. In humans, acute bouts of stress don’t seem to increase salt appetite, but chronic stress does increase intake of salty, processed junk food. Obviously, eating McDonald’s fries doesn’t help improve your health, but I find it highly plausible that salting your healthy Primal food to taste could be an important ally against stress. It’s just that when most people need “something salty,” they reach for potato chips, not a couple soft boiled eggs dipped in sea salt.

Third, as I mentioned above, low sodium diets are often associated with elevated stress hormones.

Personally, I’m drawn to salty foods – often jerky or macadamia nuts sprinkled with some sea salt – when I’m up against a deadline, and it seems to help.

It makes food taste better.

Yes, some people would claim this attribute as a negative. Adding salt to food will make you more likely to overeat and gain weight and develop the diseases associated with weight gain and so on and so forth. But I’ve always held that eating good food is one of life’s highest, purest pleasures. If your food doesn’t taste good, there’s no point in eating it. We’re not machines concerned only with fuel. We are sensory, sensual beings with the capacity for appreciation of thousands of flavors. To deny the pleasure of food is to deny our humanity.

Salt can also make otherwise unpalatable – but healthy – food somehow palatable. A plate of steamed kale is boring and bitter. A plate of steamed kale with sea salt and olive oil is delicious and inspiring. Plain broccoli? Kids everywhere are spitting it into napkins and stuffing them into their pockets. Broccoli stir-fried with soy sauce (or tamari, if you please)? Kids everywhere are mailing in their dues (and signing up for auto-pay) for the clean plate club.

You could drop your salt intake to half a teaspoon and get a three or four point drop in your blood pressure. Of course, you might not enjoy your food anymore, your performance in the gym or on the trail would likely suffer, your stress hormones might be elevated, you might start feeling overtrained without doing any actual training, you could become insulin resistant, and you may have trouble clearing (the elevated) cortisol from your blood. But, hey: your blood pressure readings will likely improve by a few points! Or, you could keep your salt intake up around two teaspoons, give or take, simply by salting your food to taste, and avoid all that other stuff.

Your choice.

What do you think, readers? Do you fear salt? Do you relish it? Do you find your salt appetite increases under certain conditions? Let me know in the comment section!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I think it is important to eat the correct type of salt; not the processed denatured white table salt that has been stripped of all the trace minerals. We should choose Himalayan salt, Celtic sea salt, or Real salt from Utah. These are in the raw state with trace minerals intact.

    George Malcolm wrote on June 12th, 2013
  2. Mark,

    Having been diagnosed and treated for several decades with a “genetic” case of hypertension, I have watched my life-long Doctor vacillate between the various “studies” (via Big Pharma) indicating just what is “normal blood pressure.” This also ties into salt in take –
    SImply, if one does not eat a “commercial” diet and uses Sea Salt, then this is overall the best course of action. THe only risk to this would be not possibly getting enough iodine. However, since many restaurants don’t have sea salt yet, a little common table salt a couple of times a week should suffice…

    Love you program and poots…
    Yogi Greg

    Greg Turner wrote on June 12th, 2013
  3. Since losing almost 70 pounds with low carb/Primal eating, I have “perfect” blood pressure… that’s what the PA says every time. It has been flirting with “borderline high.” Even though I salt more than ever; though I don’t eat anything processed.

    I was so stunned by how good sea salt tasted I went for the pink stuff… even better! I’ve run across accounts where people describe bloating and headache issues which go away when they use the kind of salt with the trace minerals in it.

    Works for me.

    WereBear wrote on June 12th, 2013
  4. When I came down with a mysterious illness doctors couldn not figure out almost 6 years ago, I modified my diet. Part of this modification was eliminating high sodium foods and adding much salt to food. When I finally got a diagnosis (POTS), I found out I actually need double the amount of sodium the average person needs. Reducing my sodium was one of the worst things I could have done! It was difficult at first to get out of the low sodium mindset.

    Jackie wrote on June 12th, 2013
  5. I use some sea salt and Celtic salt and even take a few drops twice a day of a “dead sea mineral beds” supplement that includes sodium. Dumping refined, nutrient-stripped table salt onto your food … no, not something I’d recommend.

    George wrote on June 12th, 2013
  6. I was wondering whether there is a need (or benefit) to supplement potassium in the diet? And does upping one’s sodium intake make the balance with potassium a concern? It appears potassium supplements are restricted to a rather tiny % of RDI, by regulation. On the other hand, a product like “Lite Salt” has closer to a 50/50 sodium/potassium ratio. But I wonder about the safety of using this product to that end.

    Kevin wrote on June 12th, 2013
  7. I agree with the sodium-potassium pump comments, not just for their role in the heart muscle, but in all our cells.

    As for the impossibility of balancing sodium/potassium, I have no problem; I live in France and use a salt product called “LoSalt” that is 2/3 potassium chloride and 1/3 sodium chloride. Since I’ve been using it I’ve been able to stop taking high blood pressure medication AND I have less difficulty with swollen ankles.

    The article you cite states that “Feasibility studies should precede or accompany the issuing of dietary guidelines to the public” – TRUE, but have they looked at Finland? I’ve read that they made potassium salt mandatory and had a huge reduction in cardiac problems and stroke incidence.

    Wendy wrote on June 12th, 2013
    • When I began eating avocados regularly, my cholesterol and blood pressure dropped to normal. I started because of the insoluble fiber factor, but now I wonder if it has something to do with potassium.

      I’m not at all afraid of salt, but I find my taste buds don’t need as much to enjoy my food. My guys complain I don’t salt enough for their processed food-trained taste. I hand them the salt shaker. :)

      gibson wrote on June 12th, 2013
  8. Yes! I knew it! I am one of the hold-outs of my generation (60 years old) who is still cooking with salt. Even my mother who taught me how to cook doesn’t use it much anymore, nor does my daughter (in her early 30s). But to my taste (and to the taste of numerous hockey billets over 10 years), salt is what makes it better! My blood pressure is the lowest in my entire family (at a healthy point, not too low)… glad to be exonerated – thank you!

    Marilyn wrote on June 12th, 2013
  9. Great article, Mark. Now I can have some legitamate arguments for the no salt advocates. One thing, however. You suggest using sory on broccoli to make it more palatable for kids. I was clearly under the impression that soy, as well as corn and grains were a no no among us primal/paleo folks.

    mark Swartz wrote on June 12th, 2013
    • Soy SAUCE (I mean as opposed to solid soy like tofu) is a fermented and traditional product, I avoid it myself except very rare occasions, but it’s in a “less bad” category.

      Patrick wrote on June 12th, 2013
    • Most soy sauce contains gluten, which makes it a no-no for those who must be completely gluten-free. I don’t have celiac disease, but like many people, I feel better when I don’t eat grain products. That said, I don’t make total avoidance my life’s work either. I don’t eat breads, pasta, or cereal, but it doesn’t bother me physically or mentally if the au jus on my roast beef contains a bit of soy sauce. It all depends on one’s sensitivity level.

      Shary wrote on June 13th, 2013
  10. Thanks for the post Mark!

    John wrote on June 12th, 2013
  11. Salt helps people retain water – but that’s not always good. So many people live with inflammation and don’t even know it. Add fluid retention and you have a whole host of possible ailments doctors can’t pinpoint. After much research, I found that humans only need between 80 mg and 500 mg of sodium per day, depending on your size. My diet for the past seven years has included 500 mg or less of sodium a day, and my sodium levels are fine. I never did have high blood pressure. My issue is immune related inflammation. MANY people have issues stemming from this, but it’s very hard to diagnose. I have severe vertigo attacks that can last two days if l eat much over 750 mg. So before you say it’s not bad, know that it is for many people. And it may not affect you now, but it can with a vengeance. Why take the chance? Especially with your children??

    Shriba wrote on June 12th, 2013
    • You say humans only need 80mg to 500 mg a day? Please share some of those studies you say you found….

      melv wrote on June 12th, 2013
    • I have never seen any type of study that has shown that. Can you give links?

      I would suggest that you should have that checked. Severe vertigo from small amounts of salt is very unusual. You might have an inner ear disease- there are actually posts upthread from 2 people who have that, and talk about how their sodium restriction helps their vertigo.

      It is NOT NORMAL for people to need to restrict sodium like that. Most people, including children, actually will do better with more sodium than that. It’s quite healthy for the vast majority of people to consume sodium to taste. I do believe everyone should use more natural forms of salt rather than iodized morton’s, but that’s pretty much the only issue with it.

      Denise wrote on June 12th, 2013
    • Several People commented about their Menieres disease which caused them terrible vertigo if they consumed too much salt for them. Sounds like you have that. You may want to talk to a doctor about it.

      Brandi wrote on June 12th, 2013
  12. Very good article. Thanks, Mark.

    I knew a man who lived to be 98 years old, and was active until the day he died. He went to sleep and never woke up… a passing that I think we all would favor when considering the alternatives!

    He didn’t follow any diet strict diet. He did avoid candy and sweets, didn’t drink much milk… things like that. His diet was “Everything in moderation.”

    It was wonderful knowing this man. He was a happy fellow and a living history book. The stories this man could tell…

    The “common knowledge” about eating is all wrong. I went paleo and lost 60 pounds. My family told me “you’re going to have high cholesterol levels eating all that meat! My levels went DOWN, still a bit borderline high according to the current medical “standard.”

    I don’t think a little salt is going to hurt or kill anyone.

    Let’s all face the facts my friends. We are all going to pass from this existence sometime, no matter what happens. The goal is to make it a happy life which includes enjoying a good meal!

    Rich wrote on June 12th, 2013
  13. When making salt water to drink, just how much salt per cup is advisable?

    M.

    MEversbergII wrote on June 12th, 2013
  14. Do you suggest, then, sea salt water instead of a commercial electrolyte-replenishing sport drink?

    If so, how much salt per volume of water?

    Jason Clark wrote on June 12th, 2013
  15. Just an FYI. The ADA is now called AND (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics).

    Jackson Blakeman wrote on June 12th, 2013
    • Fabulous. Now if someone could actual get them to actually dust off some biochemistry and anthropology books before unleashing their ideas on the general public, we’d be all set. ;)

      Amy wrote on June 12th, 2013
  16. I love my salt and have used it all my life. But I am more aware of how much it’s used and try to substitute other herbs and spices whenever possible because there’s so much salt already in the foods we buy from the grocery stores. Been reading a book called ‘Salt, Sugar, Fat ; How The Food Giants Hooked Us’ which explains the prolific amounts of salt we consume due to processing. Large corporations like Nestle, General Foods, Campbell’s, and pretty much all of the big companies rely on salt for shelf life for their products. So without eating any salt from my shaker, I am getting anywhere from 1500 to 3000 mg’s daily. I won’t completely stop using it because as you mention in the article, I love what it does for flavour enhancement. But I will be vigilant about how much I am consuming. I know the Primal diet promotes natural foods but we still end up eating some processed foods too.

    Al wrote on June 12th, 2013
  17. I think this may be why I used to yo-yo between primal and fast food so much. I would eat primal and feel low energy (not just low carb flu as I mean after even a month on primal), I would then have a fast food meal and feel a lot better – most likely it was the boost in salt intake.

    I say this because later on I was working out 5-6 days a week and my energy levels started dragging more again. I started to take salt tabs and I got a near immediate boost (within a day or so) in energy levels. I sweat a lot, so I think my tendency to lose electrolytes like salt is greater then some.

    Matt Jones wrote on June 12th, 2013
  18. I’m a fan of sea salt, Himalayan sea salt, celtic sea salt, etc. It’s better in my book than added sodium found in the Standard American Diet in processed foods- that’s a whole other story. I agree with the hydration component of salt, I’m a very active individual, so I pay special attention to salt intake as well. Not to mention, it simply makes good food taste even better!

    McKel

    McKel wrote on June 12th, 2013
  19. I don’t know much about salt, except that too much is bad and too little is bad too! I think it also has a lot to do w/ the quality. For example I don’t eat processed or fast foods, and I salt my own food to taste, sometimes too heavy handed w/ the salt! But I use celtic sea salt or himalayan pink salt always. And I don’t have any health problems, other than chrons which is now manageable, that I know of.

    tina wrote on June 12th, 2013
  20. If you’re on a ketogenic diet (I am) salt has an important role to play in keeping blood pressure at a good level as your kidneys remove more salt than they did before. In fact, on some days, especially very hot days, I must have some broth to make sure I have enough sodium. Especially in the early days of a ketogenic diet, failure to get enough salt can lead to ligh-theadedness, especially if you work out. I also take a multivitamin for good measure. I happen to enjoy a modest amount of salt on food, and since I have such a small amount of carb each day, it’s not a problem at all.

    Edward Brown wrote on June 12th, 2013
    • Bingo! This happened to me several times after inadvertently going under 150 grams of carbs per day. My blood pressure dropped and started getting light headed. I have a home BP monitor (my pulse was also 49 BPM!) I ate SAD for a couple of days after that. Trying to get back on the PB wagon after falling not too far off

      There is a sweet spot for salt consumption, and it changes with the volume of sweat you produce. For example, after about 3 weeks of increased sweating the body will actually reduce the amount of sodium in sweat, so optimal salt consumption is a moving target.Getting rid of other variables (like the effects of refined carbs) helps us get closer.

      More info and experience from the crowd please. Shriba’s comment and Mark’s article are just as valuable.

      Anon wrote on June 12th, 2013
  21. SALT IS SALT….SEA OR NOT………..SALT HOLDS TEN TIMES ITS WEIGHT IN WATER………..EVERYTHING IN MODERATION, IS A GOOD THING……POTASSIUM IS AN ELECTROLIGHT, IT PROVIDES THE SPARK BETWEEN OUR NERVE ENDINGS, WITHOUT IT OUR LIGHTS WOULD GO OUT………….SMILE…..JESUS LOVES YOU……….MATT. 5:13..WE ARE TO BE THE SALT OF THE EARTH…………..JOHN 10:10..JESUS CAME TO GIVE US LIFE MORE ABUNDANTLY….HE ADDS SALT TO OUR LIFE, IF WE LET HIM….THERE IS NO HYPERTENSION IN HIM……….HE GIVES NEW MEANING TO THE WORD PRIMAL……………KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK MARK…..I HAVE BEEN 80% PRIMAL FOR MORE THAN TWO YEARS NOW………..

    BILL wrote on June 12th, 2013
    • Does a strict paleo christian not accept communion?

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on June 12th, 2013
      • The communion wafer turns into flesh, so is therefore primal-compliant. :)

        Patrick wrote on June 12th, 2013
  22. The Army used to issue salt tablets in tropical areas, the hydration thing I guess. They still include salt packs in the MRE’s although there is plenty of sodium in the food already. Jus’ sayin’

    Gary Kain wrote on June 12th, 2013
  23. Are they comparing iodized salt or sea salt? Is there a difference?

    Rick Ladage wrote on June 12th, 2013
  24. Thanks for a great article Mark. What about carbohydrate consumption and blood pressure? My experience so far has been that carbohydrates have a far greater effect on blood pressure than salt, yet we never hear about it in the mainstream media. It’s unfortunate that we always focus on salt as the “white stuff to avoid” when sugar/grains seem to be the actual culprits.

    Hélène wrote on June 12th, 2013
  25. Great article Mark! Thanks for all your research.

    There are so many myths to dispel from the ‘experts’. They have people living in fear for every bite, only to find out they are throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    Another point for moderation being the key to good health.

    Shari wrote on June 12th, 2013
  26. As a senior with low blood pressure and no health problems & no doctor prescribed medications, I call salt my “upper,” as I continue to enjoy it. I also “self-medicate” by contra dancing once a week vigorously, and walk briskly daily. Mark, I am off grains, thanks to your book, and almost off dairy. I indulge occasionally, and I do have Bailey’s Irish Cream in my coffee daily. After all, I tried many food trips since 1973, including 7 years vegan and declare that I am a moderatarian now.

    Marilyn Alexander wrote on June 12th, 2013
    • “moderatarian” Love it!!!

      Julie wrote on June 12th, 2013
  27. I eat a TON of salt. If I could, I would have a salt lick in my house and lick it every time I walk by… Oh wait, I totally can do this! Ha! Funnily enough, with my massive salt consumption, I have VERY LOW blood pressure. I think this is due to the fact that I do not eat packaged foods that contain a lot of added sodium… And I also think it’s due to the fact that I exercise a lot.

    Thanks Mark for giving salt a healthy halo! Makes me feel even better that I have a salt-tooth! ;)

    GiGi wrote on June 12th, 2013
  28. And what about the link between sodium and cancer risk? Some studies seems to show a connection between sodium and .cancer. Expecially gastric cancer. Some other shows an inverse correlation between cancer and potassium.

    Massimo B. wrote on June 12th, 2013
  29. I use a lot of salt but its whole salt not some that has had every thing extracted from it. Problems started when they started taking magnesium and other things out. If it is pure white its the wrong salt. Sea salt and other like Redmond salt are whole and have specs of color in them.

    NanaLinda wrote on June 12th, 2013
  30. I have just begun this lifestyle eating change and have a question about the salt intake. Although my blood pressure is fine, I find that when I eat anything salty at all, I retain a serious amount of fluid to the point the doctor has prescribed hydrochlorothiazide daily. This seems to run genetically in my family. Any advise on sodium limits for this?

    Vicki wrote on June 12th, 2013
    • You may not be getting enough salt. When your salt intake is too low, your body will try to retain as much as possible.

      allisonK wrote on June 12th, 2013
      • In support of alisonK’s post, water retention is also something that happens when people restrict fluids, again your body hangs on to what it can get.

        Patrick wrote on June 12th, 2013
  31. I have always been a salt freak. Absolutely love it! When I was a kid, my favorite snack was a Lemon saturated with salt. I would continuously pour the salt on the Lemon until I had consumed the whole thing. As far as I know the only bad side effect was a rash I attributed to the acidity of all of those Lemons. I’m 56 now and I still indulge in this snack on occasion.

    Richard A wrote on June 12th, 2013
  32. Raised on a cattle station in the 50s eating salt beef, and self salting steak to taste. My father commented once that I ate like a puppy dog….no bread. As long as my BP’s been measured, it’s been low and Im sure the salt is important in keeping me vertical! White salt hasn’t been seen in this household for several years. I do drop a sheet of seaweed into the bone broth as it’s cooking. Also like salt on grapefruit (and pepper on berries :)

    rose (Aust) wrote on June 12th, 2013
  33. The accredited salt police keep themselves busy yelling at us not to exceed X number of milligrams of sodium, yet they remain silent on the potassium side of the argument.

    The PDR for Herbs & Supplements (2011 edition, page 590) says that adults need as much as 4.7 grams/day, and lactating females as much as 5.1 grams/day.

    Imagine how much sodium from the SAD diet would be offset with this much potassium? But are we told about potassium from our doctors or the Salt Police? No–we’re just sold a bottle of pills from Big Pharma for hypertension and told to go home until they run out.

    Sure, some may pay passing lip service to the Dash Diet, but in some cases, the Dash Diet isn’t enough. Chances are if people are low n potassium, they’re also low in other important minerals, but doctors are too busy and not paid enough to test, so it’s Band-Aid time with hypertension pills.

    Wenchypoo wrote on June 12th, 2013
  34. I find i have bouts of muscle spasms. I recently tried upping my salt intake, and pretty sure things are better. I use no added salt anywhere, usually, and eat very strictly as far as unprocessed foods. I will now try a little more salt and see if my sleeping patterns also improve, and keep an eye on stress and the other things Mark mentioned. Thanx again Mark, great stuff here !!

    Bob wrote on June 12th, 2013
  35. I agree with all of that, except the fact that you fail to discuss the different types of salt. I would not recommend someone to load up on iodized table salt – it is harmful. What people really need to be eating is a good quality sea salt that is rich in trace minerals and not just sodium. That way, your body gets more of what it needs and knows exactly what to do with it. Isolating sodium and piling it into the body is not a healthy thing to do. Iodized table salt is poison. A good quality grey or pink sea salt is highly nutritious.

    Erin wrote on June 12th, 2013
  36. So all of this seems reasonable. Is it the difference between sea salt versus table salt and the sodium content of processed foods?

    Since having a cadiac catheterization and being diagnosed with a lower-than-normal cardiac pumping capacity about 6 months ago, they scared the crap out of me about salt and I have been generally avoiding it like the plague.

    Is the point that processed salt is bad, but natural salt like sea salt on real foods like meats and vegetables is OK?

    Clay wrote on June 12th, 2013
  37. my favorite stress snack is a cup of bone broth with a spoonful of coconut oil and a sprinkle of celtic sea salt. I actually crave it!

    Zot wrote on June 12th, 2013
  38. Mark,

    I haven’t had the chance to look into those studies, but those people who lower salt intake for the study may have done so my also altering nutrient intake of other foods, such that the effects of lowering salt intake could be confounded by those other changes in intake.

    However, a decrease as small as you listed by lowering salt intake is minimal at best. We know that losing body fat lowers blood pressure much more than just lowering salt intake.

    For those with congestive heart failure, an exacerbation of symptoms could possibly be related to a food holiday with higher salt intake, but we both know that the salt intake is the least of those peoples’ problems.

    A refreshing look at salt though. Thanks.

    Tyler

    Tyler LeVIck wrote on June 12th, 2013
  39. I don’t usually cook with salt because I just leave it up to us to salt to taste afterward. I find that I like a lot more salt than my husband, and I just let myself have at it. We have our sea salt in a grinder, and it tastes sooooo awesome on everything!

    Deanna wrote on June 12th, 2013
  40. One of my favorite snacks is half an avocado with salt sprinkled on the top. It’s super tasty, mostly satisfying (I usually want another one when I’m done with it), and good for you!

    Paige G Olfert wrote on June 12th, 2013

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