Friday, September 20, 2013

Solutions to the salt paradox....

Today's Post:  Friday, 9-20-2013

A.  Three key facts:

1.  Ingesting too much salt is proven to harm the inner surface of your blood vessels if you do it too much or too long.

Recent studies show this then causes high blood pressure from that damage even after people stop ingesting that much.  It causes gout too!  And, it makes the damage from excess blood sugar worse.

That means that eating way too much salt can cause you pain, extra medical care costs, and increase your chances of having a heart attack or vascular dementia or ED.  The drugs for high blood pressure have dreadful side effects in addition!

You are far better off if you NEVER do this or do it very, very rarely!

More than 2800 mg a day of salt begins to do this; and over 3500 mg a day definitely does.

At least half our population now takes in that much!  Yikes!

2.  Eating a DASH II diet with added vegetables and fruits and other foods high in potassium and magnesium while working to eat 1500 mg a day of salt or less is proven to lower high blood pressure.  It even lowers blood pressure a bit in people who have normal blood pressure!

3.  There have been some studies showing other kinds of harm from salt intakes that low, particularly if people eat far less than that! 

And, if you use too little salt -- even if you use other spices and flavors very well, food can taste too bland or harsh or colorless.  Initially some health oriented restaurants that overdid this failed because their food didn’t taste good enough.  I once ate at one.

B. So the paradox is this, how do you get the benefits of low salt intake and avoid the truly dreadful effects of high salt intake and still have your food taste decently – and avoid the harm from too little salt?

1.  Eat fewer foods that have salt you don’t even taste that much added to them in excess.  Fast food, packaged snacks and desserts and dinners, and canned foods – particularly soups often do this.  So do most breads and baked goods.  You must read labels to know in the store and stop or cut way back on eating out in places that use a lot of extra salt but have no labels.

Eat versions of these foods that have less salt; stop eating many of these foods at all since they are often fattening or harmful for other reasons.

2.  There is some evidence it is the sodium and not the salt that is harmful to overdo.  This is yet another reason to avoid all MSG and foods with labels that deliberately hide it.  As we posted on recently, MSG is double fattening AND the S in MSG stands for sodium! Watch for other chemicals in your food with sodium and minimize your intake of those also.

3.  Eat some sea salt or magnesium chloride.  Sea salt has many other chlorides and minerals besides sodium.  And replacing half your salt with magnesium chloride has been shown to lower blood pressure.  It seems there is some evidence that the bad effects of too little salt are from lack of chloride NOT from lack of sodium.

Note that some sea salts are not in stores, and some have an extra taste besides salty or are hard to use in recipes. In addition, it may help your thyroid and your cancer protection to have iodized salt.  Most sea salts are NOT iodized.

The great recent news is that Hain foods now sells a uniform sea salt that does work well in recipes AND is iodized!  I found it recently at Whole Foods.

4.  Eat cheese from cows fed only grass in moderation.  This adds some salty taste and adds protein to recipes where you add it on top or melt it into the foods.  It also makes the food taste richer and cuts back on harsh tastes. It also lacks the heart damaging omega 6 oils of cheese from cattle fed grain.

5.  Use all the other spices except salt well. Often your food will taste great with no added salt.  This is particularly true if you use bottled or canned food that has some salt but not too much or if you add cheese as we just listed.

6.  Never slam lots of salt onto a food you haven’t even tasted yet!

7.  When the food seems too unsalty or flat or you want to give the food a more inviting and warm taste, go ahead and salt it lightly – but ONLY after you taste it first.

If the food is well spiced otherwise and you are used to not eating super salty things, you’ll find you don’t need much.

The better news is that often if the food does taste too bland or flat, adding just that little bit of salt will improve the food’s flavor dramatically.

8.  Do the other things that are heart protective and prevent damage to your blood vessels.  Avoiding too much sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and refined grain foods does this.  So does getting some vigorous exercise most days of every week.  

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