Please pass the salt

One day you read that caffeine is not good for your health then you read in another study that caffeine is good for you. Chocolate has the same debate like tea as well. And the list goes on and on. For this reason I stopped believing these health studies and now following the only fail-proof study; moderation intake. Common sense says too much coffee is not good same as no caffeine is also not good, at least not for your morning spirit.

Only when it comes to salt my consumption is lower than average. I got used to it in a way that my guests ask for the salt when I cook. These studies got me very cautious when it comes to salt intake. But today I read one of those unproven studies that low salt intake is even worse than above average intake???


salt-cnnDoctors and public health officials have been telling us for years that eating too much sodium can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke by raising blood pressure to unsafe levels. So how to explain a new study that suggests low salt intake actually increases the risk of dying from those causes?

The study, which followed 3,681 healthy European men and women age 60 or younger for about eight years, also found that above-average sodium intake did not appear to up the risk of developing high blood pressure (hypertension) or dying of a heart attack or stroke.

Slightly more than 6 percent of the participants had a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular emergency during the study, roughly one-third of which were fatal. Those who consumed the least salt had a 56 percent higher risk of death from a heart attack or stroke compared with those who had the highest consumption, even after controlling for obesity, cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, and other risk factors. [source]


10 thoughts on “Please pass the salt

  1. This highlights the distinction between science and journalism. One such study is merely of interest and a direction for further study to the scientific community. On the other hand, such a study may be a real headline grabber. It is one of the reasons that one has the impression that one is told x is good or bad for you on a daily basis.

    I think the caveats the researchers listed are important. As a group the study population was slim, white, and young–all factors which decrease the risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease independent of salt intake per se.

    There may also be genetic differences in processing salt. My paternal grandfather, who lived to 102 before succumbing to a stroke, was a high salt user.

    However, that was salt added to home made table foods (including salad). The main issue in the US, that is less of an issue in Europe generally, is the very high salt content of junk food, and the high percentage of junk food in a diet high in total calories.

    If a person is otherwise healthy, moderation is the best option usually. If one has specific vulnerabilities, then one should make modifications that still allow for proper nutrition.

    Here is the link for the study abstract as it was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. If you have university library access you can get the full study online, from the same link.

    Re: caffeine–beware the tannins!!!! Tea, cola, and coffee have caffeine, but also tannic acid (highest in tea) which washes out iron. Excessive drinking of these, particularly within one hour of iron-rich food or iron supplement washes out the iron. Iron deficiency takes a long time to correct even with iron supplementation (usually 3 to 6 months). Added to other factors (being female, “burning the candle at both ends”, iron-poor diet especially for vegetarians, iron malabsorption, or blood loss being the most common), tannin consumption via these drinks can have a big impact.

    –female, candle burner, tannin-drinker 😦
    now (after 7 months) improving 😀

    1. Did your grandfather used to smoke as well? Almost every Jordanian man I knew who lived more than 90 years, few more than 100, was a smoker (unfiltered also) and none passed away because of cancer. I hope children are not reading this because I am definitely not pro smoking. It might be just a coincidence but it is a common thing. Those men as well used to consume Ghee (clarified butter) a lot and drink very, very sweat tea 🙂 They could have gotten some diseases but I think they were healthier. If for any thing it is because they used to move A LOT and never ate anything they could not pronounce (unknown ingredients added to frozen and canned food).
      For me I just believe moderation is the key.

      1. He smoked from the age of about 12 to 72, then he stopped cold turkey. I’m not even sure why. He used a toothpick to stick out of his mouth for the “oral fixation” part for a while, and stopped once and for all. He probably smoked unfiltered cigarettes for at least part of the time. He lived in his own house until he was 97 (my grandmother who was much younger than he, died much earlier). Then he was among the high functioning residents of a home for the elderly, where he enjoyed a renewed social life. To invoke stereotypes, as a true Italian he enjoyed the female-male ratio of about 5-1 (being conservative). When he had a major stroke he elected to stay there on one of the nursing floors, and died peacefully at an age when he felt he was ready.

        I think the key about the diets you are describing is that the men were generally physically more active. Even things like going for a walk to the café, using the stairs within the home, using manual small appliances etc are things that add up over all. Also, the no junk food, no grazing between meals, and as you say no additives which are often chemicals adding salt and sugar, as well as the potentially carcinogenic preservatives and dyes, make a difference.

        I agree, activity and moderation in intake are probably the soundest health strategy for most.

        1. Your grandfather’s story reminded me of Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers.” In one of the chapters he described the life style of Italians before and during their immigration to New York. It was a good read.
          Thanks for sharing! I actually like sitting with old people, chatting with them and hearing their impressive stories. It is good to be around them 🙂

    1. I didn’t read it but I have watched the author many times on TV talking about his book. I have an idea about it. Now, since you recommend it I think I will read it.
      Thanks for the link, looks a good read.

  2. hmmmmmmmmmmmmm



    well, it IS a debate , it shall continue ..

    I`m diabetic , reducing salt has made me wonders! but to each his/her own I guess!

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