- Why too LITTLE salt could be bad for you
- How sodium could rid you of the ‘symptoms of old age’
- 3 tips on how to get enough salt
I was cooking for some friends on Friday night.
For my friends’ delight, I was rustling up monkfish with lemon mayonnaise. One of my favourite dishes.
As I ground a shower of sea salt onto the fish, my friend John said in astonishment: ‘Whoa there! Easy on the salt. Are you trying to give us a group heart-attack?’
I slowly put down the salt grinder and turned to the table where they were all sipping drinks.
‘Oh please no!’ said my wife, her head hitting the table.
‘Nonsense!’ I bellowed. ‘This is EXACTLY why I get angry with government issued medical scare stories. You’re victimising the WRONG kind of salt.’
And from there I launched into a 10 minute rant. One that my wife has heard too many times, but that I think you’ll be very interested in…. especially if you’re an otherwise healthy person who has been avoiding salt at all costs.
Don’t worry. I’ll be quick and to-the-point…
Why health do-gooders will hate me for saying this
I think it’s about high time we put the nanny state food fraternity on the back foot…
- The anti-butter brigade should run home with their discredited margarines. The new heart disease links to margarine are ringing in their ears.
- The low-fat army should retreat, clutching their modified fake foods. They’ve realised that the big food companies who manufacture endless new ‘low fat’ products are getting richer… while everyone’s getting FATTER.
- The coffee hating, red wine loathing foot-soldiers are now looking a bit foolish and lonely. Scientists are lining up to point out that these things, in moderation, are actually good for you.
Next in line for a bit of a battle: the low salt champions.
Why some people don’t get ENOUGH salt
A few outspoken scientists are now making a new claim: that people can suffer health problems when they don’t get enough salt in their diets.
Last year, researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University published a controversial report in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. They went as far to say that there was ‘no evidence’ that a high sodium intake can ‘independently cause, or lead to a higher risk of, heart disease’.
Dr. Hillel W. Cohen, author of the study said: ‘Our findings suggest that for the general adult population, higher sodium is very unlikely to be independently associated with higher risk of death from CVD or all other causes of death.’
This went against a study from 2007, published in the British Medical Journal. It said that reducing salt intake could cut the long-term risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 35%.
But the controversial scientists at Albert Einstein College aren’t alone.
Back in 2004, Professor Ingo Fusgen of at Germany’s University of Witten-Herdecke told a conference that as many as 10% of elderly might suffer from hyponatraemia. This is where your blood levels contain very low levels of sodium.
Symptoms of hyponatraemia include tiredness, incontinence poor concentration, and lack of balance.
This means that many people walk around believing they are suffering from the problems of ‘old age’…. when it fact it’s low sodium levels that are the problem.
And this is easily solved… by eating a little more salt!
Why the ‘one-size-fits-all’ advice is dangerous
The problem is that many people believe that salt causes high blood pressure, full stop. So they almost entirely give up eating salt. And this is dangerous.
The UK’s Food Standards Agency claim that in the UK 26 million people eat too much salt. They say they’re determined to bring down the average UK salt intake to 6g a day.
However, this blanket ‘one size fits all’ recommendation is dangerous.
The Food Standards Agency also tell us that processed foods contribute to 75% of salt intake. This is the key to the problem in my view.
Someone who eats lots of ready meals, white breads and pre-made sauces not only eats too much salt but will be unhealthier for lots of other reasons too.
I would agree entirely that they eat too much salt, and that their lifestyle and food choices are also a serious danger factor.
Now let’s take someone who rarely eats any processed food.
Instead they eat freshly home cooked meals, including lots of fresh fruit, veg, fish and meat.
If this person follows mainstream advice, listens to the scare stories, and abstains from salt, they are actually in danger of having low levels of sodium.
And otherwise healthy people are living in fear of salt, when actually they can eat it in moderation on fresh, high quality food.
Here are 4 tips for getting ENOUGH salt
* Before you listen to general government advice and panic about your risk of high blood pressure, look closely at your own diet and lifestyle. Adjust this before you decide to cut out one demonised ingredient.
* Avoid processed foods. Eat them as an occasional guilty treat if you love ’em. But beware that they’re packed with stupidly high levels of salt, and are ridiculously low in nutrition.
* Avoid mass marketed bread – many brands are packed full of salt. In 2017, a study showed that 64% of big brand breads had far too much salt. Avoid anything that contains more than the four essential ingredients: flour, water, yeast and salt. Make your own bread, or get access to a high quality bakery.
* Try and cook for yourself as much as possible with fresh ingredients. Now you can feel free to season your food with salt. In moderation, salt is GOOD for you. Try some high quality sea salt.
When it comes to salt, I think a bit of common sense and moderation is the order of the day!
Yours, as always,