Salt: A Sprinkling Of Misinformation

In Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere" (old spelling), the Old Salt recounts his harrowing tale of troubles on the high sea. And although he finally lands on solid ground, he can't shake the curse of the salty ocean or that albatross that was hung around his neck.

And we know it's not easy for you to shake off the curse of a salty diet, either! When recent headlines declared that (for the 71- to 80-year-olds in the study) eating too much, just enough or too little salt didn't make much difference in longevity, we thought: "Wait a minute!"

Many studies show that both getting too little salt (less than 1.2 grams per day) and getting too much (more than 2.3 grams per day for healthy people, 1.5 grams for those 50-plus) can have adverse health effects. And while moderate amounts of salt may not cause high blood pressure in folks who aren't "salt sensitive," a new study shows that for everyone (even those with normal blood pressure), excess salt in the diet may damage the lining of your blood vessels. That can negatively affect blood coagulation, platelet adhesion, blood vessel flexibility, stroke and heart attack risk, and immune function.

Fortunately, since 70 percent of the salt in the North American diet comes from packaged, processed and fast foods, it's easy to reduce your intake: Don't eat foods made in processing plants; eat foods from plants grown in nature! Go for fresh foods, prepared at home, and rely on spices and herbs for flavor boosts. Shake off the curse of the old salt by avoiding those processed albatrosses!

© 2015 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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