Are We Eating Too Much Salt?

Unfairly demonized?

Most paleo diets are quite a bit lower in salt and sodium than standard American diets.  At the same time, they should be quite a bit higher in potassium, which may be very healthy.

Every 10 years or so, “the powers that be” make a push for population-wide salt restriction thinking that it will prevent cardiovascular disease and associated premature death.  The American Council on  Science and Health has a brief review of the latest research on salt restriction, and it’s not supportive of population-wide sodium restriction.

Remember, table salt molecules contain one sodium atom and one chloride atom.  Salt-restricted and low-sodium diets are usually designated by the amount of sodium, not salt.

That being said, I do believe some individuals have elevated blood pressure related to relatively high sodium intake.  This may apply to one of every five adults with high blood pressure.  To find out if you’re one of the five, you could go on a low-sodium diet—1.5 to 3 grams a day—for one or two months and see what it does to your blood pressure.  Get your personal physician’s blessing first.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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