Salting Away Our Futures

Next time you grab that novelty salt shaker, you might want to think twice before you rattle the contents of Mickey Mouse’s head all over your meal. Salt is far more insidious than most people realize. From Disease-Proof Your Child, here’s what Dr. Fuhrman has to say about it:
A large body of data illustrates that populations with low salt consumption have lower levels of blood pressure compared to populations with higher salt intake. In Japan and China, salt intakes are often as high as eighteen grams or more per day. Hypertension (high blood pressure) and stroke are the major causes of premature death in these nations. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that in the United States, the man salt intake is eight grams per day. This high intake of sodium assures that we have an elderly population with high blood pressure.

High salt intake, and resultant high blood pressure later in life, does not merely increase the risk and incidence of stroke. It also can lead to kidney failure, congestive heart failure, and heart attack.
Last week J.M. Hirsch of The Washington Post took a look at America’s fiend-like salt addiction. He offered up some stern words for the state of salt consumption in this country:
When it comes to health, it doesn't matter if it was mined in Kansas, solar-evaporated from the Mediterranean Sea or hand-harvested in French marshes. Salt is salt, the experts say, and it's bad for your health. Chances are you're eating way too much of it.

If you think setting down the shaker will make a difference, take that advice with a grain of salt. Most salt comes from processed foods and restaurants.
Someone should send this to “health guru” Dr. Joseph Mercola who, on his website, sells and touts the benefits of Himalayan Salt:
When you use pure Himalayan Crystal Salt, you receive 250,000,000 years of accumulated sunlight and energy, plus all the natural minerals your body needs for restoring balance and life force.
Although, dramatic claims like this aren’t the primary pushers of our salt addiction. In his article Hirsch points out processed and restaurant foods are the main culprits (not really a new concept for this blog):
For perspective, a McDonald's Quarter Pounder with Cheese contains nearly half a teaspoon of salt, while two slices of Pizza Hut Meat Lover's Stuffed Crust pizza has more than a teaspoon. Even most low-sodium canned soups contain nearly a quarter teaspoon.

And taste isn't always a good indicator. A serving of Cheerios has more salt than a serving of Ruffles potato chips.

Because processed and restaurant foods dominate the American diet, it can be hard to cut back—unless you eat out less and buy fewer processed foods.
Believe it or not, there can be life without salt, even the Himalayan variety. In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman offers up some suggestions for those trying to cut back or remove salt from their diets:
If you desire to salt your food, do so only after it is on the table and you are ready to eat it. It will taste saltier if the salt is right on the surface of the food. You can add lots of salt yet hardly taste it if the salt is added to the vegetables or soup while they are cooking. VegiZest instant soup mix has a nice salty flavor and can be added to salads or sprinkled on food. Use herbs, spices, lemon, vinegar, or other non-salt seasonings to flavor food. Condiments such as ketchup, mustard soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and relish are very high in sodium, so if you can resist them, use the low sodium varieties sparingly.
And for those totally committed to eliminating salt or together, a salt free life can actually make eating more enjoyable. As discussed in a previous post: Warning Labels for Salt
If you don’t use salt, your taste buds adjust with time and your sensitivity to taste salt improves. When you are using lots of salt in your diet, it weakens your taste for salt and makes you fell that food tastes bland unless it is heavily seasoned or spiced. The DASH study observed the same phenomenon that I have noted for years—it took sometime for one’s salt-saturated taste buds to get used to a low sodium level. If you follow my nutritional recommendations, without compromise, avoiding all processed foods or highly salted foods, your ability to detect and enjoy the subtle flavors in fruits and vegetables will improve as well.
According to Dr. Fuhrman if you’re a vegan or vegetarian you’ve got even more reasons to avoid salt. Check out this post: Salt: Potentially More Dangerous For Vegans and Vegetarians
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nicole - August 18, 2006 10:29 AM

Thanks for this post, I've been Eating to Live for two months now and have had a relatively easy time cutting out oil, added sweetener, diet soda, and most other processed foods from my diet (with amazing results).

The toughest thing for me has been getting used to/ giving up salt alltogether. I've drastically cut down the amount of sodium in my diet but do miss it in some dishes. The info here and in the linked post really "scared me straight."

Thanks again!

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