Starting last week, chain restaurants in New York were required to list the sodium content of dishes which the restaurants are up in arms about (and plan to sue the New York Department of Health about). Now I’m all for the authorities taking steps to make people aware of their healthy food intake, but I do have some sympathy with the restaurants here. See, in my opinion, salt isn’t as huge problem as many would have us believe…
Over the past few decades, doctors and the media have been telling us that salt is bad for us and should be removed from our diets. Excess salt, and sodium intake, has been associated with a number of serious health problems such as strokes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Some have even described salt as being the single most harmful substance in the food supply (yeah, really…even while battered Mars Bars are still in existence).
These claims however must be taken…with a pinch of salt (sorry!).
You see, recent studies have actually shown there to be no link between sodium intake and the aforementioned health issues. In fact, those who consumed the least amount of salt actually had marginally higher death rates from heart disease.
Whilst this may contradict what many other studies claim to have shown, there is no doubt that there ARE health benefits to sodium intake, and I would generally (not always) recommend that you add some salt to your meals occasionally, providing you are following a diet which primarily consists of unprocessed foods.
The confusion comes because most of the population consume more salt than they need because they eat so much processed foods. However, once you cut out this rubbish, there can be a need to add some salt back in.
The human body loses salt each day through urine and sweat, and it needs to be replace some how (or cramping, and tiredness, in particular can be the result). I’m often telling my clients to add some good quality salt to their meals (and sometimes even their drinking water), especially those who regularly participate in sports and /or workout.
What Kind of Salt to Take?
I generally recommend sea salt, or other commercially available natural salts, as better options than common table salt. This is not just because of the improved flavour (though trust me, it’s much better), but because the natural salts will general contain higher trace mineral content, as they will not have been so heavily processed. If it’s pure white you should probably avoid. Off white, or pink, is normally pretty good.
Give it a try!