The Skinny on Salt

Salt ShakerAs a fella who’s been around since the Stone Age, I’ve seen a lot of trends come and go (heck, I’ve even cashed in on a few of ’em – anyone remember the Pet Rock?). But when it comes to yer diet, one thing has gone through more revamps and changing perceptions than anythin’ else: salt. Chances are, a lot of you Rockheads have some pretty firmly held beliefs about the white stuff, and not a lot of ’em are positive. The biggest voices in the salt biz say that salt consumption can raise blood pressure, cause hypertension, and increase the risk of premature death.

Yet, surprisingly, the eat-less-salt argument has proved not only controversial, but also pretty difficult to defend. As a recent New York Times Article reports, we may not actually have the right idea when it comes to salt. While the food industry obviously opposes it, the actual evidence that supports the salt stigma is, in reality, pretty weak.

As Drummond Rennie, an editor for the Journal of the American Medical Association put it, “You can say without any shadow of a doubt that the authorities pushing the eat-less-salt message had made a commitment to salt education that goes way beyond scientific facts.”

In recent years, in fact, evidence is suggesting that restricting how much salt we eat may actually be harmful – it can even increase the likelihood of premature death! To put it in caveman-simple terms: if we were to restrict our salt diets to the levels recommended by the U.S.D.A and the C.D.C, we’d actually be hurtin’ ourselves!

Most of the studies about salt causin’ hypertension had too many variable factors – it might not’ve been salt causing the problems at all! While eatin’ less salt would modestly lower blood pressure, there’s no hard evidence to suggest that it’ll reduce hypertension, prevent heart disease, or lengthen yer life.

While I’m not sayin’ that we should all head to Costco to buy wholesale boxes of sodium-rich Ramen noodles, it’s good to know that the occasional salty snack ain’t gonna send us to an early grave! This caveman feels like kickin’ around for at least a few more years. At least now I know I can do it without havin’ to turn in my tater chips!

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