Our Greatest Enemy: Refined Salt

It is closely followed by sucrose (another incoming post) and its derivatives. My very first post from the Tales from the Larder series was about, you guessed it, Salt, and it is time to revisit it as “The War on Salt” is starting to get some traction though some Republicans are on record for saying that it is another infringement on their rights! Imagine, a government agency (FDA) is pointing out, rightly so, that too much salt is detrimental to health yet we have some rightwinger nincompoops dissing this effort to bring down health costs!

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Now we all know that our body needs salt so let’s take a closer look at salt consumption and what it does to us: nearly 80% of salt in our diet comes from processed foods.
Fact: sodium consumption raises blood pressure, increasing the risk for heart attack and stroke. This much is well known.

Sugar and salt are damaging the health of Americans by raising blood pressure and cholesterol — and regulation may be the only way to help, researchers agree. Two reports published on Tuesday take aim at the much-loved ingredients and add to a growing body of scientific opinion that Americans won’t be able to eat more healthily without help from the food industry.

Most people consume far too much salt, and a University of Iowa researcher has discovered one potential reason we crave it: it might put us in a better mood:

UI psychologist Kim Johnson and colleagues found laboratory rats deficient in sodium chloride — common table salt — shy away from activities they normally enjoy, like drinking a sugary substance or pressing a bar that stimulates a pleasant sensation in their brains

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A few years ago there was a study done by INTERSALT (pdf) which measured the salt intake of over 10,000 people in 32 countries and found that a difference of just 6 grams of salt per day was found to result in a difference of systolic blood pressure of 10mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure of 5mm Hg for a 55 year old male or female. These figures suggest that an extra 6 grams of salt consumed daily can increase in the risk of heart disease by 21 percent and stroke by 34 percent.

In today’s L.A. Times there’s this article: Food companies sign up for war on salt. It’s interesting to note that Starbucks have signed on. The other companies which have also declared the same are Kraft, Mars Food US, Hain Celestial Group, Subway, Uno Chicago Grill, Au Bon Pain, Goya, White Rose, Unilever, FreshDirect, and Heinz among others.

You want to use less salt? First line of defense: buy less processed foods. Here a few alternatives:

Freshly squeezed lemon juice: is a wonderful salt alternative. Mix it with a little vinegar and you won’t miss salt.

Tamari: it’s derived form soy and you can get a low-sodium variety. I very rarely use salt in what I cook. Instead a small dash of Tamari or Ketjap Manis gets the job done, with minimal slat content.

Kelp Powder: high in iodine needed for proper thyroid function and also has ocean minerals naturally. It can be bought from health food shops and in some supermarkets.

Celery Salt: I make it myself. Chop up a bunch of celery stalks with leaves, and bake until dry. Use the processor to pulverize it and add a third of sea-salt. Great on salads, breakfast eggs etc…another way of doing it is to use celery seeds. Again the ratio is 2/3 celery seeds, 1/3 sea-salt.

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Naturally, this dumbass which loiters in the Faux News corridors, namely John Stossel, has a much different take, wouldn’t you know it?!

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