A recent study says that cutting salt intake by just a half of a teaspoon per day would reduce heart disease significantly in this country. While I agree that salt intake can be too high for some, all most people hear when they read studies like this is that salt is bad, period. Salt is a necessary staple in the diets of human beings. Salt or, sodium chloride, provides sodium and chloride for the body to use. Both of these elements are necessary for proper electrical transmission in the nervous system and heart as well as proper skeletal muscle contraction just name a few.
What people need to understand is that eating processed foods is where salt becomes a problem. The article from the NY Times does make mention of this, but does not emphasize the point enough. I think what needs to happen is that people significantly reduce the processed foods they are eating instead of forcing the government to lean of food makers to reduce salt in their products. Reducing the salt in these foods is only a minuscule part of the problem. That’s like trying to reduce auto accidents by forcing auto makers to make slower cars. The processed foods have a much more dangerous side to them. They are generally loaded with sugar or other simple carbohydrates which, over time, produces obesity and diabetes. Reducing obesity rates in this country would have a much more profound effect on health than would eliminating salt. The government needs to rethink their policy on health and put together a large scale campaign like D.A.R.E in the 80’s and 90’s or the anti-smoking campaign. If they do that and truly educate people about health, we might see a change. The experts for this need to be true experts in nutrition and not just recycle the dogma of low fat, etc. If we continue to let the pharmaceutical industry tells us how to be healthy, we’ll continue to get sicker and sicker.
I always have and will continue to tell my patients that as long as they do not consume processed foods, they can salt their food to taste without worry of suffering the negative consequences of too much salt intake.