Is Salt Unhealthy?

Jun 5, 2012 1:01 pm

Writer Gary Taubes says we have it all wrong

Salt
Photo: Kaptain Kobold on Flickr
Is salt really to blame for hypertension?
 

From the same writer who asked us “is sugar toxic?” comes a controversial ode to another tabletop favorite — salt. In an article for The New York Times, science writer Gary Taubes declares, “salt, we misjudged you.” Taubes argues (to the certain dismay of many physicians and Mayor Bloomberg) that salt has been unfairly villainized and that it’s truly a lack of sodium that we should be worried about. We expect chefs will be estatic about Taubes' claims.

In the article, Taubes contends:

  • Researchers lack sufficient evidence to support claims that salt raises blood pressure and causes hypertension
  • Restricting salt can cause premature death
  • The current health warnings surrounding salt’s effect on blood pressure are a hypothesis

For those who have read Taubes’ earlier work this message is nothing new. But regardless of your stance on salt, a large part of deciding whether or not to cut back on it hinges on your ability to determine where sodium is lurking in everyday foods.

More than 40% of Americans' salt intake comes from these 10 products (as determined by the CDC):

1. Breads and rolls
2. Cold cuts and cured meats
3. Pizza
4. Fresh and processed poultry
5. Soups
6. Sandwiches (including cheeseburgers)
7. Cheese
8. Pasta dishes
9. Meat dishes (like meatloaf)
10. Snacks (like chips, popcorn and pretzels)

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