If you were to conduct a survey on whether or not salt is okay for your heart, most Americans (and sadly, doctors) would tell you it’s downright terrible for you.
And it’s all because they believe it raises blood pressure.
Considering the major importance of heart health, as well as the emphasis our society puts on it, this level of misinformation is staggering — and downright shameful.
The truth? Your heart needs sodium to function properly. And your best sodium source is none other than the one you’ve been told to avoid: salt.
Worst heart-health advice ever?
For decades, doctors have been advising their older patients — and any patient with high blood pressure (hypertension) — to forgo salt use. Cut back drastically on salt, they say. Or better yet, don’t use it at all.
So the salt shaker gets banished from the dinner table. But little do they realize that the advice to ban salt is some of the worst heart health recommendations doctors have ever given. And here are two major reasons why:
- Your salt intake is already scant.
About one teaspoon of salt equals 2,000 mg of sodium, which, according to the World Health Organization, is the maximum safe level for daily intake.
In reality, the vast majority of us barely shake out a full teaspoon of salt every week, much less every day…
Last year, researchers at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health surveyed 450 U.S. adults about their eating habits. Participants had diverse backgrounds and a wide range of ages.
The research data illustrated that:
- 71 percent of their sodium intake came from unhealthy forms of sodium (such as monosodium glutamate) in processed foods and restaurant meals
- 14 percent came from sodium that’s naturally present in vegetables and other whole foods
- 4 percent came from tap water, antacid medications, and other sources
- A mere 5 percent of their sodium came from salt added at the table
- And just 6 percent came from salt added during cooking
Clearly, the real key culprits behind most sodium-related health problems are processed foods, which contain the harmful forms of this nutrient.
So, for most people, depriving yourself of a shake of salt at the dinner table will barely make a dent in reducing your overall sodium intake.
And missing out on that brings us to that other reason why it’s bad advice to avoid salt…
- Salt is good for your heart. In fact, your heart can’t thrive without it.
Busting an age-old myth
Dr. Fred Pescatore lays out the salt/sodium myth bluntly in his Ultimate Heart-Protection Protocol. “The fact is,” he says, “you’re being led down the wrong path when it comes to sodium recommendations and your risk of heart disease and stroke.”
To illustrate just how far from reality this myth actually is, Dr. Pescatore shares a study where researchers examined health data from about 130,000 people with an average age of 55.
For this analysis, daily sodium consumption below 3,000 mg qualified as low intake. As it turns out, intakes at this level were linked with a higher risk of heart attack, stroke — and a higher risk of death from these events.
But in the same study, high sodium intake (defined as more than 6,000 mg daily) raised cardiovascular risks only in people who already had high blood pressure.
Dr. Pescatore points out that this demonstrates a central fact: “Salt contributes to high blood pressure only in a small fraction of people — a mere 10 percent of the population of the U.S. So to make a blanket recommendation that the entire population should consume less salt is just plain ridiculous.
“Common sense would tell you that we need to identify the individuals who have both risk factors — high blood pressure and high sodium intake — and get them to dial their salt use back to moderate levels.”
Find your “sweet spot”
Dr. Pescatore notes that the FDA would like to see us lower our sodium intake to no more than 2,300 mg per day — an amount that the study above shows may increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
In other words, he says, don’t expect the powers-that-be to back down from their “salt scam” anytime soon.
The takeaway message here is simple. Dr. Pescatore says, “Neither too much nor too little salt are good for you. Instead, there’s a ‘sweet spot’ that falls somewhere in between the range where you get the most benefit. Yes, benefit. From salt. Because despite what the ‘experts’ want you to believe, your body needs salt.”
Of course, if you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension, then you want to keep a close eye on your intake of salt and sodium in general. But for just about everyone else, this advice from Dr. Pescatore applies: “If you follow the dietary guidelines in the Ultimate Heart-Protection Protocol — that is, you eat a diet with little or no processed foods, and you season them to taste — you’re not in danger of getting too much sodium.”
And he adds one more suggestion: Use sea salt.
Iodized salt (the kind you’ll find in most salt shakers) contains sugar, added by manufacturers to keep salt grains from sticking together. Whereas sea salt contains important electrolytes, along with other minerals like calcium, magnesium, iodine, zinc, and potassium.
Dr. Pescatore recommends a natural sea salt brand called Real Salt®, which you can find in most supermarkets.
Dr. Pescatore talks more about salt — and busts other heart health myths — in his online learning tool, his Ultimate Heart-Protection Protocol. To learn more about it, or to enroll today, click here.
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