Salt has a salty history

The Law of Moses required that all grain offerings be seasoned with salt. Leonardo da Vinci painted an overturned salt dish in front of Judas which represented an ill omen for his traitorous act. The importance of salt originated not only from its nutritional value as a mineral source, but also from its usefulness in preserving foods for seasons when people would otherwise have starved.

Many societies have used salt as a form of currency. The expression, “not worth his salt” comes from the practice of trading slaves for salt in Greece. For thousands of years, salt has been considered an irreplaceable component of the human diet.

But guess what! Government-sponsored salt-related research triggered in 1979, “Surgeon General’s Report on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention” identified salt as a major factor in hypertensive conditions. Then another government study concluded that, in general, societies with higher salt intake will have higher average blood pressure.

And even more damning was a 1999 study that followed over 20,000 Americans for 25 years. The results were that people who ate more salt had “32 percent more strokes, a whopping 89 percent more deaths from stroke, 44 percent more heart-attack deaths, and 39 percent more deaths from all causes.”

Well, an independent review of all this proved that the conclusions were false. The relationship of salt to cardiovascular disease was only true for persons hugely overweight. In fact, Michael Alderman, an epidemiologist and past president of the American Society of Hypertension, concluded quite the opposite and wrote that for persons who were not overweight, “the more salt you eat, the less likely you are to die.”

While some hypertensive persons are sensitive to salt, it is false to conclude that high salt intake is a cause of high blood pressure. Alderman concluded that those who consumed the least salt had the most myocardial infarctions and other cardiovascular complications.

An article published in The Lancet, a prestigious British medical journal, in 1998 similarly concluded that people, “who eat lots of salt live longer than those who avoid it.” The 25 percent of people who consumed the lowest amount of salt had a higher risk of death compared with the 25 percent who consumed the highest amounts of salt. Likewise, in an eight-year study of hypertensives in New York, those on low-salt diets had more than four times as many heart attacks as people with normal sodium intake.

Rosch states that reduced salt intake actually has a number of negative consequences including: increased levels of renin (an enzyme that is associated with hypertension), increased levels of LDL (low density lipids—the bad type of cholesterol), insulin resistance (the cause of adult onset or Type II diabetes), reduced sexual activity in men and cognitive difficulties and anorexia in the elderly.

Dr. David Brownstein, in his book Salt Your Way to Health, said he was taught in medical school that salt causes high blood pressure and everybody should be on a low-salt diet. While treating his patients, he started to notice the ones who had high blood pressure received very little benefit from a low-salt diet. Most of them were also low on minerals. In his search for ways to help these patients he came across unrefined salt. By suggesting that his patients should use unrefined salt, which has more than 80 trace minerals in it, he noticed something strange start to happen.

His “patients with high blood pressure were finding that their blood pressure was actually coming down to the point they could come off of their medications.”

Brownstein’s book, Salt Your Way to Health will show you how adding the right kind of salt to your diet can help adrenal disorders, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, fatigue, headaches, immune system function and thyroid disorders.

There is hardly a doctor in the land who would not advise you to cut your salt. Meanwhile doctors rarely mention the dangers of sugar.

We have to remember that Americans think that salt is salt. Not so at all. Everyday salt that we consume is sodium chloride. This is a bad salt because it is processed salt, that is, it is heated and the mineral value is flushed away.

Ordinary table salt is highly processed. It is approximately 97.5 percent sodium chloride and 2.5 percent chemicals. It is dried at more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. This heat greatly alters the chemical structure of natural salt.

Sea salt has about 16 percent natural minerals and trace minerals like silicon, phosphorus and vanadium. So the salt that the FDA is opposing is ordinary refined table salt which has absolutely nothing in common with unrefined natural sea salt. The difference in health effects is great, but the FDA never defines salt as good and bad.

What kind of salt? Celtic Sea Salt from France or RealSalt® from Utah. Both can be purchased online and at health food stores.

Reference: Rosch, Paul J., M.D., “Take the Latest Low Sodium Advice with a Grain of Salt.”

Bob Livingston

By Bob Livingston

Bob Livingston has been writing most of his adult life on matters of health, nutritional supplements, natural alternatives and social importance.