Updated: Apr 2, 2018
Nearly everybody in the Western world consumes up to 10g of salt every day. It is ubiquitous in our cooking, in processed foods and in cafés or restaurants. Salt is everywhere. But what exactly is salt? And what does it do to our bodies?
Salt is a mineral compiled mostly of sodium chloride. It is highly seductive and changes the taste buds so that the food loses its flavour and tastes bland and unappetising without it. From an evolutionary perspective, the human body is used to less than 1g of salt per day and can barely handle more salt intake. That’s why it wants to flush out the sodium and raises the blood pressure with every salty meal. This results in an increasing blood pressure the more salt we consume over the years.
The blood pressure of a new born baby is 100mm HG and should remain so throughout life, however nowadays this value rises constantly with age. The increasing blood pressure is considered to be normal but nothing could be further from the truth as it is the result of a salt intake that is way too high. What’s more, hypertension is one of the best validated surrogate markers for cardiovascular disease and stroke. Thus, there is a strong link between salt and premature death and it is proven that salt leads to millions of unnecessary deaths as well as thousands of expensive and avoidable doctor visits yearly worldwide.
In the modern world, the solution for treating people with high blood pressure is pharma-ceuticals even though we have clearly known for ages that a lower salt intake results in better arterial function. In the 1940s, for example, before the advent of high blood pressure medication, a doctor called Walter Kempner treated all of his high blood pressure patients successfully with a low-salt diet. Furthermore, subsequent studies have confirmed that an adequate reduction in salt significantly lowers blood pressure.
As we have already seen, the western world has up to 10 times higher salt intake than our bodies are able to handle. Sadly, there is a lot of money spent on drugs for lowering blood pressure even if there is a solution that is cheaper, tastier and more effective.
So, why doesn’t the government support the people and change food habits when a diet which is low in salt is proven to benefit health considerably? Is it really necessary to cook with salt and if not, what can be used instead to make our meals tasty? Sonja from SOS Free