For years, we’ve been told salt is “bad” for us.
Like the low fat diet hype of the 1990’s, doctors and USDA guidelines have cautioned us to avoid salt and sodium in the name of heart health, anti-inflammation and low blood pressure.
However, newsflash: Salt is really not as dangerous as you’ve been made to believe.
In fact, salt actually does a body good.
A new study that followed more than 2,600 people for 16 years debunked the USDA’s scare-tactic claims about salt.
Lead researcher Lynn Moore, of Boston University School of Medicine said: “We saw no evidence that a diet lower in sodium had any long-term beneficial effects on blood pressure,” adding, ”Our findings add to growing evidence that current recommendations for sodium intake may be misguided.”
In the study, researchers followed 2,632 men and women, ages 30 to 64 years old. The participants had normal blood pressure at the study’s start. However, over the next 16 years, the researchers found that the study participants who consumed less than 2500 milligrams of sodium a day had higher blood pressure than participants who consumed higher amounts of sodium.
CURRENT SALT RECOMMENDATIONS
While the USDA still currently recommends Americans consume no more than 2300 mg of sodium or salt daily (and the American Heart Association goes a step further, recommending “an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day in order to “significantly improve blood pressure and heart health”), what they SHOULD be recommending actually is LESS PROCESSED AND PACKAGED FOOD.
On average, most Americans consumer 3,400 mg of sodium per day, and there’s no question the modern epidemic of disease we see (1 in 4 have heart disease, 1 in 4 have cancer, 1 in 3 have high blood pressure).
However, is it really salt that’s triggering inflammation (disease)?
Or is it the quality of the foods with that salt?
The majority of this sodium most people consume comes from some processed, prepackaged and restaurant foods (not from the salt shaker).
Although USDA recommendations urge us to eat less salt—the real recommendations should encourage less process, packaged and restaurant foods.
Salt is not the enemy.
WHY SALT IS GOOD FOR YOU
Salt—or sodium—is a necessary mineral to maintain good overall health. Some of the benefits of salt include:
- Body Balance & Healthy Metabolism— Salt helps your body maintain balance (homeostasis) and a normal cellular metabolism
- Hydration—Salt enhances the absorption of water by your cells—in turn, nourishing your whole body with life giving water.
- Cellular Energy. Salt is a natural electrolyte—providing metabolic energy and nutrient replenishment to your cells on an ongoing basis.
- Aids in Digestion. Salt creates HCL (hydrochloric acid)—necessary for proper digestion and breakdown of food
- Brain Booster. It helps you think straight and concentrate—promoting “brain balance” and fluid in your head
- Flavor Enhancer.Salt makes food taste better. A pinch is all you need to enhance the flavors of your food
- Fights off adrenal fatigue and stress—Salt balances out potassium levels to keep your stress hormones and adrenal glands happy and less stressed.
- Heart Health. In addition, salt’s coordinating balancing role with potassium helps keep your heart beating, and works in sync to maintain normal heart beat and function.
And get this: if we don’t consume enough salt in our diet disease is MORE likely, including: strokes, heart attacks, Diabetes Type 2, GI dysfunction, respiratory difficulties (shortness of breath), nausea, fatigue or lethargy.
In addition, if you like to workout, when you don’t eat enough salt, you run the risk of not staying hydrated for your training, since salt is a natural electrolyte that helps absorb your water.
A good rule of thumb?
Add a little bit of (quality) salt—from the salt shaker—to flavor your foods at most meals. Cook your morning eggs or your sausage patties with some sea salt. Add some to your chicken or tuna salad or soup at lunch, and incorporate it into your stir fry, hash, veggies or casserole for dinner. And even add a pinch to your morning water or tea to help balance out electrolytes and hydrate for the day.
In other words: The Goldilock’s approach (“just right”) is warranted and you don’t have to be afraid of adding some salt to your foods to bring out some natural flavorings.
CHOOSING YOUR SALT
So what salt to choose?
Table salt is the salt in most processed foods and restaurant foods and it’s important to recognize: Not all salts are created equal.
Just like a generic fish oil supplement from the grocery store is typically different than a pharmaceutical grade fish oil, sold by a natural practitioner, the same thing goes for salt.
While the mineral content is often similar of salt in its purest form, many table salts as well as cleverly marketed “sea salts” contain additives or high-processing practices, diminishing their nutrient values.
Table salt appears to have very little nutrition benefits.
Table salt is heavily processed in excessive heat that removes 82 out of the 84 minerals in salt, leaving behind only sodium and chloride, and often lacking iodine—an essential nutrient for thyroid and metabolic health.
Additionally, considering the majority of processed and packaged foods contain this type of salt, table salt is not always found in the most quality of foods. Lastly, , table salt has also been shown to increase Americans’ desire to consume more processed and packaged foods when consumed.
The main conclusions?
Choose a pure, true (real) Sea Salt, Himalayan Sea Salt, Celtic Sea Salt or Kosher Salt OVER regular table salt with NO ADDITIVES (and add in Iodine as a bonus).
Here’s the low down on what salts to shop for at the store instead:
Sea salt is a general term that refers to salt derived from the sea. Look for REAL SEA SALT, since many brands are actually refined—similar to table salt.
Celtic Sea Salt
Refers to naturally moist salt harvested from the Atlantic seawater off the coast of Brittany, France. Celtic Sea Salt is harvested using the Celtic method of wooden rakes allowing no metal to touch the salt. It is naturally aired, then sun-dried in clay ponds and gathered with wooden tools to preserve living enzymes. It is unrefined and contains all of the 84 beneficial live elements found in sea water, with no chemical and preservatives or any other additives (unless otherwise stated on the label).
Himalayan Sea Salt
Like Celtic Sea Salt, the Himalayan Salt contains all of the 84 live elements from the sea and earth. It comes in a course pink granule and a little bit goes a long way for flavor.
Iodized Sea Salt
Contains iodine—a mineral many Americans are deficient in, necessary for healthy thyroid and metabolism.
Best for baking or cooking! It’s the preferred salt by many chefs—as they claim it’s more flavorful and that it contains fewer additives, like anti-caking agents. In addition, the coarse flakes don’t stick to your fingers, allowing for better control when you want just a pinch. And jagged edges help it stick to foods better, so you waste less.
Choose your fave!