The Truth About Salt

If you suffer from high blood pressure you’re probably watching your salt intake. Well guess what? The experts say salt may not be public enemy number one when it comes to hypertension. Here’s the truth about salt, courtesy of Rodale Publishing:

  • Salty truth #1: We need salt to survive. Salt is sodium and sodium is one way oxygen gets into your blood stream. Your body can’t make its own and if you don’t replenish your salt supply regularly, you’ll get dizzy and pass out from lack of oxygen. That doesn’t mean you should go hog wild. The Institute for Medicine says, if you’re healthy, limit yourself to about a teaspoon per day, and if you’ve got high blood pressure go with a half teaspoon a day.
  • Second salty truth: The ONLY way to reduce salt in your diet is to eat less processed and restaurant foods. That’s according to Dr. Marion Nestle, professor of Nutrition at New York University. Here’s the deal: salt makes food taste good. It’s also a preservative. So it’s no wonder that 77% of the salt in our diet comes from eating fast food and processed foods. Some dishes at your favorite restaurants have three DAYS worth of salt in them. So if you’re looking to cut down, eating at home more is a good start. A study by the Centers for Disease Control found that only 5% of salt comes from what we add to our home cooking.
  • The final truth about salt: Eating more potassium will do you just as much good as eating less salt. Sodium and potassium work together to keep blood pressure stable and everything else in your body humming along. Super salty processed foods are also low in - you guessed it – potassium. The foods that are highest in potassium are fresh fruits and vegetables.

The bottom line is salt is not your enemy. It makes food taste great and we need it to survive. Just like anything else it needs to be enjoyed in moderation, and the best way to eat less salt is to cut down on the fast food and increase the fruits and veggies.

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