Less salt = long life

Recently, I sat  through a Nephrology review course. At one point, the professor stopped lecturing and turned to the 1,000 plus audience of medical doctors and said, “If  you want to live longer, limit your intake of salt.”

For years, doctors and nutritionists have warned patients against the evils of a high fat diet. Trans fats have been implicated as the culprit that increases cholesterol leading to atherosclerosis. These fatty deposits in arteries often result in heart attacks and strokes.

It’s easy to pick on fat. High fat food tastes good. They’re addicting and combined with sugar they are a deadly combination, deadlier than Bush and Cheney combined. But salt meanwhile, has been given a free ride. Of course, doctors, particularly cardiologists, have been jumping up and down, arguing that salt, more than fat, is the cause for hypertension, cardiovascular disease and even stomach cancer.

So how much do you have to give up to live a longer, healthier life?

Most adults should maintain salt intake to less than 1,500 milligrams a day. Unfortunately, most food has nearly twice that amount. Just look at the label. Worse is that low-fat foods tend to have more salt to balance the taste. This makes dieting difficult when you’re apt to reach for something that says, “Healthier” or “Good for you.” Honestly, if the only salt you took in was the sprinkle you applied to your meal than things wouldn’t be so bad, but it’s that extra salt in food that does the most damage.

So what should you do?

1. Don’t pick up the salt shaker. In fact, don’t even have one on the dinner table.

2. If food comes in a can you can be sure it has more salt than is necessary.

3. Stay away from processed food ie, hot dogs, bologna, sausage and bacon. (All my favorites)

4. Beware of fat-free food.

Meals that are high in salt cause fluid retention. That could lead to increases in blood pressure. High blood pressure can result in cardiovascular complications, particularly congestive heart failure. High output heart disease may result in a heart attack and heart attacks are the number one killer of American men and women.

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One Comment

  1. Posted April 28, 2010 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Good Deal!

    I was able to bring my blood pressure back to normal with diet alone, and was able to stop the blood pressure medication which made me feel depressed as a side effect.

    I tossed the salt shaker years ago.

    For the blood pressure I had to give up Taco Bell… 😦 but I’d rather take as few drugs as possible.


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