The Problem with Salt

The Problem with Salt

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The negative health implications of high salt intake have been known and effectively ignored for decades. The New England Journal of Medicine recently published an article which showed that even modest reductions in Americans’ salt intake could save up to 392,000 quality adjusted life years annually while dropping annual medical costs by between $10 and $24 billion per year. NPR reported on this article, stressing that in the middle of our healthcare financial crisis, perhaps we should look more seriously at cutting back on our salt.
Another article from the NEJM reviewed the research on sodium and potassium intake, leaving little doubt that high salt’s is a major contributor to hypertension.
For those concerned with what they look like now, a body building site levels even more criticisms at salt from the perspective of a life skills trainer. They make an interesting case that to lose weight, one first needs to cut down on the salt intake.
Despite the evidence of damage to our health from too much salt, the American’s average salt intake has increased by 50% in the last 40 years, mainly from our highly processed foods.
Why not just cut back on salt? My patients who successfully decreased their salt, reported  up to six weeks of bland tasting food. After this, they described enjoying previously hidden, yet quite pleasurable tastes, especially in vegetables. It seems a win-win scenario, less salt unlocks the joy of eating and decreases heart attacks and strokes.
So, why don’t more people cut back on salt?
The main reason is that junk foods just don’t taste good without loads of salt, whereas “healthier” food tastes great with less salt.
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