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Low salt diet may not be so beneficial

ipsedixit May 14, 2013 08:43 PM

So, says an expert panel from the Institute of Medicine and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Gee, what a surprise.

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  1. j
    janniecooks RE: ipsedixit May 14, 2013 11:52 PM

    Wait, what? Does that mean we were lied to about salt, too?

    1. Ruth Lafler RE: ipsedixit May 15, 2013 12:36 AM

      They've been saying for years that sodium really only matters to the relatively small number of people who have sodium-sensitive hypertension. But that's the way Americans are: things are either "bad" or "good"!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Ruth Lafler
        hill food RE: Ruth Lafler May 15, 2013 01:21 AM

        no that's just completely wrong.

        or very right.

        ehh f@%+ it. I hear wolves have been prowling lately. and oh, one of these days I'm going to maybe see one and yell and yell and yell.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler
          Savour RE: Ruth Lafler May 15, 2013 10:13 AM

          Yep. I think I first got that nugget of information in Jeffrey Steingarten's "The Man Who Ate Everything" which I read 15 years ago.

        2. Phaedrus RE: ipsedixit May 15, 2013 04:35 AM

          We as Americans, are pretty alramist and black and white. So if a little bit of denial or control is good, then absolute denial and control is better. The concept of proportional response is a lost art.

          I don't think anyone will change, least of all the FDA.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Phaedrus
            drongo RE: Phaedrus May 15, 2013 07:40 AM

            I don't think I want the FDA to change its stance on salt/sodium. The agency does regulate labeling with regard to salt and sodium, but has resisted calls to establish limits on the amount of salt in foods -- e.g. as proposed in the previous IOM report from 2010 http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2010/Strat...

          2. paulj RE: ipsedixit May 15, 2013 09:18 AM

            A more informative link at

            2 Replies
            1. re: paulj
              mcf RE: paulj May 15, 2013 10:32 AM

              Was it this one, which I moved? http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9021...

              1. re: mcf
                paulj RE: mcf May 15, 2013 11:14 AM


            2. e
              escondido123 RE: ipsedixit May 15, 2013 09:43 AM

              When my husband got high blood pressure we cut salt back to almost nothing--it made no difference. Doctor said not to worry about salt--we don't. (And for those who will hop in and talk about all the salt we're getting in prepared foods, we eat almost no prepared/restaurant/fast foods.)

              3 Replies
              1. re: escondido123
                ipsedixit RE: escondido123 May 15, 2013 09:56 AM

                My grandparents had high blood pressure, and there are members of my immediate family who suffer from it.

                And like you, dietary changes made little difference (on the margins it may have). It was more about lifestyle in terms of exercise and weight control, and stress.

                1. re: ipsedixit
                  hill food RE: ipsedixit May 15, 2013 09:04 PM

                  yes - "and stress" <em>stress!</em>

                  it's so much easier to ask a simple internal question than get worked up over something that doesn't matter. I see this all the time and it would be so much easier to just say "so my granddaughter has a tattoo and 3 shades of hair and her best friend is a guy and he's gay, but she works hard, gets good grades and they're good people, so what do I care?"

                  I truly believe self-imposed stress is a far bigger factor than most easily ID'd suspects. (and pass the sea salt)

                2. re: escondido123
                  mcf RE: escondido123 May 15, 2013 10:33 AM

                  Salt *lowers* my bp, on the very rare occasions it's not low normal. Salt opens the channels for potassium to enter cells, and potassium lowers bp.

                  Folks don't need to restrict salt so much as they need to eat the foods that are high in minerals/electrolytes.

                3. m
                  mwhitmore RE: ipsedixit May 15, 2013 10:27 AM

                  Old news to me. Did you know that in the 1920's, reputable nutritionists advised that there was no need to eat vegetables? But if you did, you should cook them for a long time to make them digestible, then serve them in a cream sauce to make them healthy!

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: mwhitmore
                    wapfcat RE: mwhitmore May 15, 2013 10:55 AM

                    That's not super wrong. I don't know about cooking them for "a long time", but there are certainly antinutrients in vegetables that prevent the proper absorption and digestion of their nutrients, plus all the cellulose, which we can't digest, both of those are broken down in cooking to make them more digestible and useful. And serving them with fat (or cream sauce in this case) DOES make them more healthy, because without fat, your body won't absorb those all important fat soluble vitamins (A, D, and K). That said, even though nothing beats the nutrient density of meat and animal fats, I'd never say we don't need to eat vegetables; they're also very useful for aiding the liver in detoxing and all that jazz.

                    1. re: wapfcat
                      mcf RE: wapfcat May 15, 2013 11:15 AM

                      Making them more digestible while leeching veggies of nutrients is the most unhealthy possible thing you can do to them!

                      They're good for you due to the nutrients they contain and the fact that the fiber carbs don't raise your blood sugar post meal due directly to the indigestibility. That's what high fiber foods are recommended for.

                      1. re: mcf
                        hill food RE: mcf May 16, 2013 12:13 AM

                        and boiled to mush vegetables have no happy colon-blow properties.

                        1. re: mcf
                          paulj RE: mcf May 16, 2013 12:27 AM

                          How many of those vegetables that are good raw or lightly cooked, are products of modern agriculture, with an emphasis on picking vegetables when young, tender, and sweet?

                          Petite Sweet Peas (year around) are a creation of the frozen food industry. Sweet corn is the result of recent selective breeding. Getting balanced nutrition of out of field corn requires soaking in a chemical solution. Many traditional foods required soaking to remove bitter or acid components (acorns, yuca, oca).

                          Indigestibility may be fine when you can get more than enough calories from other sources. Go ahead and feed those gut bacteria; who cares about the gas they produce. But when you have to hunt or work for your food, having highly digestible food is a good thing.

                          1. re: paulj
                            mcf RE: paulj May 16, 2013 06:34 AM

                            Not necessarily. You don't want the sugars to enter your bloodstream all at once, quickly if you have work to do. You want it to last for hours without causing you to crash.

                      2. re: mwhitmore
                        greygarious RE: mwhitmore May 15, 2013 09:09 PM

                        Scary as that is, it's practically spa cuisine compared to the tradition of the "beefsteak dinner", a 19th century excess that lasted into the Roaring Twenties. http://mcnyblog.org/2012/12/11/beefst...
                        A piece detailing these dinners begins the New Yorker anthology of food writing, "Secret Ingredients".

                      3. paulj RE: ipsedixit May 15, 2013 09:52 PM

                        The report itself


                        Some key points:
                        the average US consumption of sodium is 3400 mg/day

                        studies using high blood pressure as a surrogate, have concluded that 2300 mg/day is a good target for the general population, and 1500 mg/day for at risk populations.

                        The committee looked at studies that take a broader measure of health, and concluded that 2300 mg is still a good target. The benefits from going below that are inconclusive, and there is one study (done outside the USA) that concluded that aggressively low salt diets might actually be harmful (at least for that test population).

                        They also found that there is a lot of variability among studies as to how sodium intake is measured, so the actual numbers need to taken 'with a grain of salt'. Individual also differ in how they utilize sodium, so one-size-fits-all recommendations don't work.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: paulj
                          AnneInMpls RE: paulj Sep 5, 2013 10:10 PM

                          In the US, at least, it's surprisingly hard to limit one's daily intake to 2300 mg/day - not to mention the lower 1500 mg/day. I'm one of those in the "at risk" population who sees a definite benefit from the 1500-2500 mg/day diet, and it's HARD HARD HARD. I really miss convenience food and restaurant meals, but they're a no-go because of the insanely high sodium content, except in a few rare cases.

                          Frankly, there's way too much salt in most restaurant and packaged food. I'm hoping that as boomers age, there'll be more of a demand for low(er) sodium food. Those who want high sodium can always resort to the salt shaker.

                          1. re: AnneInMpls
                            ipsedixit RE: AnneInMpls Sep 5, 2013 10:15 PM

                            It may be hard, but the better question might be "why limit it to such a level of 2300 mg/day".

                            1. re: ipsedixit
                              AnneInMpls RE: ipsedixit Sep 5, 2013 10:16 PM

                              Because it lowers my blood pressure and keeps my ankles and fingers from puffing up. Best of all, I don't have to use any BP medicine - that's worth all the work to me.

                              1. re: AnneInMpls
                                ipsedixit RE: AnneInMpls Sep 5, 2013 10:19 PM

                                Sorry, didn't mean specifically to mean "you".

                                More of a general question as to why we can extrapolate such a guideline to the general population when it's obviously a very individualized issue.

                                I, for one, for example suffer from low sodium levels even after adding table salt to my canned soups.

                                1. re: AnneInMpls
                                  mcf RE: AnneInMpls Sep 6, 2013 07:51 AM

                                  This topic is more about the broad brush recco, though. Very few folks benefit, and many are harmed, by such severe salt restriction, which raises mortality rates.

                                  If it works for you, that's all you need to know, unless you're low on K and Mag.

                          2. mcf RE: ipsedixit Sep 5, 2013 09:09 AM

                            Shelley Wood. Populationwide sodium guidance "makes no sense" in most countries. theheart.org. [Clinical Conditions > Hypertension > Hypertension]; Sep 4, 2013. Accessed at http://www.theheart.org/article/15784... on Sep 5, 2013

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