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Jan 27, 2010 09:12 AM

Is anyone else bothered by all the talk about reducing salt intake?

Let me just get this off my chest ... Salt is not evil.

There, I said it.

And, I mean it.

Don't get lost in the hysteria and headlines.

There have been no (read: none, nada, zero) studies that have shown that salt actually causes hypertension.

Observational studies (and those are the only ones we have at this point) only show that salt intake tracks with hypertension, however there is no evidence suggesting that reducing salt intake actually lowers the risk of developing hypertension, or other cardiovascular risks.

In other words ... correlation does not mean causation.

Then there are those people who actually require more than the recommended amount of salt. Some of us (like yours truly) have low blood pressure and require additional salt in our diets. Others have certain tachycardic conditions that require salt.

For a balanced look at salt and public welfare, this is a good starting point:

So, step back from the Kool-Aid folks, salt isn't evil. In fact, I would dare say that it is the people who say salt is evil who are in fact the evil-doers.

Devil's in the details, as they say.

There, I feel much better now.

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  1. While I don't think there is anything intrinsically wrong with lowering sodium intake, such advice must be taken with a grain of salt (roll eyes, groan). Some people are sensitive to sodium (such as myself), so they must watch the sodium intake. But it makes no difference to others, such as yourself, ipsedixit. I don't think sodium causes hypertension, but it can exacerbate the problem. Even people who are on very low sodium diets can have high blood pressure.

    A large amount of the sodium consumed in foods today come from processed foods and preservatives. Otherwise, they would taste like cardboard and go bad very quickly. With fresh foods, you really don't need that much salt anyway.

    1. My biggest problem in the whole debate (which raytamsgv alludes to) is that people are interchangeably using the terms "salt" and "sodium". I've even seen this done on national news reports. These are very different things! If you're cooking from scratch at home, you're using salt and it's comprised of only about 40% sodium (I think that's the number I read recently - don't quote me) whereas processed foods use sodium as a preservative and flavorant, increasing the sodium content - not salt necessarily. So you could totally stop salting food or using salt in cooking, but if you don't watch your processed food intake, you might not have any impact on your health whatsoever. I watch sodium by reading labels and rinsing canned beans, etc., but I am not afraid of throwing kosher salt into my cooking!

      1. any medical folk speaking here?

          1. The OP asks if we are bothered about all the talk about reducing salt intake.

            Well, I couldnt give monkey's toss about all the talk, nor do I give a toss about what anyone else does. So long as no-one forces me to eat more of it than I do now, then I'm a happy bunny. I dont cook with it and don't add it to my food at the table. Havnt for years and now find many dishes prepared by others to be far too salty for my current tastes. What other folk choose to do is a matter for them.

            9 Replies
            1. re: Harters

              I used to cook and eat without salt, too, for decades, and had the same experience of everything prepared tasting terribly salty to me. In recent years as my hormone function has changed, I've had periods of intense salt cravings as my needs changed and was really surprised to learn how my health needs changed my experience of the taste from objectionable to desirable. But that only happens when I need the extra salt.

              1. re: mcf

                Actually there are two things which I eat with sea salt. And it's because I like the specific taste and crunch of the sea salt with them, not as a particular enhancer to the veg (as I'm also happy to eat them without).One is simply boiled or steamed asparagus. The other is raw celery. Don't ask me why these and nothing else as I dunno.

                1. re: Harters

                  During my otherwise added salt free years, I always put it on eggs and raw tomatoes.
                  I just thought about it, and even when I'm craving salt, I don't put it on asparagus, which I love plain steamed or sauteed with olive oil.

                  1. re: Harters

                    i LOVE kosher salt on steamed/caramelized veggies... carrots, squash, broccoli, cauliflower... i love the big crunch flakes and saltiness contrasted with the sweetness of the veggies... damn, now i'm hungry for carrots and salt.

                    1. re: Emme

                      i use kosher salt on my peanut butter.
                      gives it a little more of a kick.

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        That's something - salt on pb - my mother and her family before her always did, with regular table salt. I didn't know it wasn't the "done thing" until I was older.

                2. re: Harters

                  I don't give a rip so long as nobody takes my salt away. I'll use as much of it as I damned well please.