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Salt—love it, leave it or eat it

images salt shaker Salt—love it, leave it or eat itSeventeen million lives are lost each year to stroke, heart attack and cardiovascular disease.

Triggered by high blood pressure, the condition of hypertension until now has been thought to stay under control, in part, with a reduction in salt consumption. Now, a series of studies challenge that premise and they have some proponents of the salt theory jumping up and down with exasperation claiming salt, indeed, remains a contributing factor.

Graham MacGregor, a professor of cardiovascular medicine and chair of the World Action on Salt campaign group, may have a heart attack himself from his reaction to this latest report. Needless to say, he sticks by his beliefs and findings compiled in his report of 2011.

Contradictory evidence to Dr. MacGregor’s report comes from the analysis of researchers writing in the American Journal of Hypertension and the Cochrane Library journal a review done by British researchers and published in July 2011. It showed there was no evidence that indicated small reductions in salt intake actually lowered the risk of developing heart disease or prevented premature death. In May 2011, Belgian scientists determined that “people who ate lots of salt were no more likely to get high blood pressure and were statistically less likely to die of heart disease, than those with low salt intake.”

Niels Graudal of Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark led this review. He and MacGregor are at odds with one another and strongly disagree. Yet, Dr. Graudal has what would seem stronger results on his side. They showed that when salt intake is reduced, “’…there are increases in some hormones and in fats known as lipids ‘which could be harmful if persistent over time.”

But there is a piece missing. All the researchers and scientists involved in these recent studies are considered to be at the top of their game. They are educated, published and accomplished. Yet they show a lack of knowledge about this important topic in which they claim to be experts. To illustrate, they reduce salt down to a single category of table salt. Today, we know salt comes in many forms from Celtic, Kosher, Sea and iodized to name a few.

As we become more informed about the nutritional value of what we eat, organic salts are getting the recognition for their nutritional attributes they deserve. A movement away from iodized salt is on the rise and a turn to organic salts with no processing and no iodine added are being sought after as a superior salt choice. Salt is a biological necessity. It assists in the balance of sodium and potassium levels by maintaining proper water balance and blood pH. It is also required for stomach, muscle, nerve and cellular function.

Bottom line is this. There is a solid need for salt in our body.  Though this review gives us substantial room for thought, our scientists would benefit from learning a whole lot more about nutrition and factoring it into their hypothesis.

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LouAnn Savage is publisher and editor of The Weekly Healthline, an online health and lifestyle publication. Subscribe free at: Follow her on twitter @louannsavage and join her on

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