Do We Really Need to Cut Salt?

Dr. Paul Maher just finished a two-part series on dietary salt that is well worth a read, especially if you are convinced we need to cut our consumption.

Part 1

Part 2

Polititians and public health mandarins have been on the low-salt bandwagon again for the last couple years.  Some researchers question whether it’s even possible to reduce salt consumption as low as they would have us.

I’ll consider the polititians’ opinions on my salt intake as soon as they produce reasonable wait times at the post office, reasonable service times at the Department of Motor Vehicles, improve public school student achievement scores to a respectable level, balance state and federal budgets, and drastically reduce corruption in their hallowed halls. 

Steve Parker, M.D.


Filed under coronary heart disease, Stroke

5 responses to “Do We Really Need to Cut Salt?

  1. I read those articles earlier this week and thought them to be very compelling. Processed food does have unholy amounts of salt. If we avoid processed food, though, perhaps we should salt to taste! How simple would that be?

  2. I haven’t seen a formal analysis of it, Emily, but I bet the paleo/primal/evolutionary/cave-man diet is naturally low in sodium compared to the standard American diet.

    What’s the single best name for that way of eating anyway?

    [I lean towards paleo, short for Paleolithic.]

    • Dan

      I completely agree. The only problem with evolutionary diets though is that you don’t get much calcium, and having a diet higher in salt can strip your bones of it if it is not balanced with potassium. By increasing your salt intake you might be tipping the potassium/salt ratio in unfavourable directions.

  3. Steve

    I dont like the term paleo….I dunno, it just seems to me that it gives a lot of people the idea that there actually was, a “paleo” diet. As in, “one upon a time, there was a universal diet….” Which is simply ridiculous! People eat what’s around them; always have / still do. (Isn’t that one of the keys to diet success? Restrict the available calories available to yourself?)

    Anyway – enough of that!

    I find the topic of salt to be interesting. A couple years ago, I simply assumed that the least salt the better. That the mediterranean’s flavoured with herbs etc.
    As my respect for the med diet only grows over the years, the more I read about it – I am interested in the fact that they preserved food (of course! how else does a farming family eat in winter!). And salt (in pickling veggies) is a part of that. So, how “low salt” were they?
    Certainly, the amount we get in processed food is surely an unholy amount, as mentioned above!!! Which is sad, as it is unnecessary for preservation these days!!!

    Is this another food conspiracy? Get people addicted to that lovely, salty flavour?

    Here in Oz at least, there seems to be a move towards brands offering a low or no salt version of their products. The more options the better.

    Have you ever had a tin of sardines (in springwater – no salt) on toast with a splash of (fresh) lemon and a little (extra virgin) olive oil? It’s much different in my opinion, to the usual tinned fare laden with salt.

    One thing I’ve read in some articles on the net I can testify to from personal experience. If you go on a “no added salt” diet, it will be strange at first, and then – later on, you will have forgotten what you (thought) you were missing. (Since then I’ve loosened up and happily add a dash of salt if I feel like it / not worry about it too much – just try and keep it from being excessive).


  4. Some very good points, as always, Steve.

    I’ve never seen a survey of salt usage by Mediterranean region inhabitants of the mid-20th century, the Mediterranean diet we think is healthy. No doubt, they didn’t eat as much salt-laden processed foods as do we. But how much did they add in cooking and at the table? I don’t know. Salt in the Mediterranean diet has never been an issue either way.

    The modern paleo dieters seem to focus on lean meats, fish, fruit, nuts, tubers (e.g., potatoes), vegetables. No grain, no milk products, no industrial oils. They debate among themselves what is paleo or not. For example, eat bugs or not? Why “lean” meats? Perhaps Dr. Loren Cordain got the ball rolling. I can see how it may well be a healthier way to eat compared to standard over-processed Western fare (leaving bugs out for now).