Peter Cook

Peter Cook

There is a war on salt going on. Most of us have been exposed to this jihad on salt, otherwise referred to as sodium. Many things are missing from what you are being told by Michael Bloomberg and rest of the nanny state that are trying to control our lives.  Everyone will tell you that eating too much salt can be harmful.

The recommended amount of salt per day is 2,400 mg. The typical American diet can include much more than this because of the amount of prepackaged food that the typical consumer eats. If you doubt this go into the frozen food aisle and take a look at the sodium content in a Hungry Man frozen dinner. This trend of widely available prepackaged processed food became prevalent beginning in the 1950s and has destroyed our health ever since. A good book to read on this is “Fast Food Nation”. I highly recommend it but you will never look at food the same way again.

Salt has preserved food and enhanced the taste of it for thousands of years. The problem now as I see it is salt is really not needed for preservation any longer (in my humble opinion). We have better methods of food preservation and storage now. All that sodium in your Hungry Man frozen dinner isn’t really needed any longer. It’s beyond me why it’s still added. If someone can explain to me why salt is needed to preserve something that is vacuum sealed in a bag or a can, I’d love to hear it.

People are not being told that they should NOT eliminate salt from their diet entirely. Your body actually requires salt to function properly. It maintains your fluid balance, helps transmit nerve impulses and plays an important part in the contraction and relaxation of muscles. If you eliminate salt entirely from your diet you are likely to have more health problems than you would if you have too much.

Furthermore, salt is iodized, meaning today’s table salt has iodine added to it. Iodine deficiency affects about two billion people worldwide. It’s a major cause of mental retardation and thyroid problems. In the United States iodized salt became nationally distributed in the mid 1920’s to prevent this. Lately sea salt has been all the rage. While sea salt does have trace amounts of iodine it is not sufficient to keep us healthy.

Everyone is told that too much salt in your diet is bad for you. Salt attracts and holds water in the body. This can lead to increased blood volume. Increased blood volume makes your heart work harder, which leads to high blood pressure. That’s the theory anyway but it doesn’t affect everyone. I’ve been eating salt ever since I can remember. I have never limited my salt intake and I have never had high blood pressure. It has always hovered around 120 over 80. Now everyone is different so you should consult your doctor to determine if you are sensitive to salt or not. Some people are more sensitive to salt. It affects them more than it does others but they are a minority! High blood pressure, of course, leads to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, even congestive heart failure. If you are one of these people sensitive to salt it is critical that you cut back on it. The majority of us however is just fine and can ignore the current scare tactics. Check with your doctor.

As I said, it should be noted that the majority of people are not sensitive to salt and therefore this war on sodium does not apply to you. So the next time you hear Michelle Obama or Michael Bloomberg rant about the levels of sodium in the American diet you are likely in the majority of Americans who can simply laugh at them and tell them to mind their own business. They should be more worried about the economy than your salt intake. In a future column I will tackled the misguided war on animal fat.