Myth #2: Salt is bad for your health.
Facts: Salt has been widely used by many people for thousands of years without any obvious harm. On the other hand, salt is considered harmful because it contains lots of sodium which is supposed to raise blood pressure, leading to heart disease. It is true that cutting salt can lower blood pressure slightly, but we still don’t know if cutting back on salt is actually good for your health.
In fact, the British Medical Journal recently reported that overall, “data on the effect of dietary sodium intake on subsequent morbidity and mortality are limited and inconclusive.”1 Many studies even suggest that low-salt diets could be bad for you. In particular, two of the biggest studies found that people with the lowest salt intake had the shortest life spans.2, 3 Yes, the people who ate the least salt, died the soonest, on average. But, how could cutting back on salt be harmful? Well, studies show that restricting salt can cause potentially harmful changes in metabolism, including increases in blood sugar, insulin and adrenalin levels.4, 5
My opinion: While it is possible that some people can improve their health by consuming less salt, I find that it is very unlikely that salt restriction is good for most people’s long-term health. Until someone can prove that cutting back on salt actually improves most people’s health, I believe that we’ve got more important things to worry about then getting everybody to restrict their salt intake. I would recommend that you do change from refined table salt and use a unrefinded sea salt, such as RealSalt, Celtic Salt or Himalayan Salt. These salts are not white, but are various colors from pink to reds.
- BMJ, doi:10.1136/bmj.39147.604896.55 (published 20 April 2007)
- Am J Med. 2006 Mar;119(3):275.e7-14.
- Lancet. 1998 Mar 14;351(9105):781-5.
- Clin Sci(Lond). 2007 Aug;113(3):141-8.
- Klin Wochenschr.1991;69 Suppl 2:51-7.