Pass the salt, please

Public health experts in the UK have spoken out against a new book that claims many of us should be eating more salt, not less – claiming the advice could endanger people’s health.

New York scientist James DiNicolantonio says in his book The Salt Fix that the World Health Organisation and the US and UK advisory bodies on diet have got it wrong with their advice to cut down on salt.

Salt is necessary and good for us, he says. Eating more salt will reduce the amount of sugar in our diet and help us lose weight, he says. Indeed low-salt diets may be causing brittle bones and memory loss and more salt could fix diabetes, he claims.


While I’ll use salt when cooking, I very seldom add it my food once it’s served. I’ll use pepper, but I lost my taste for salt years ago. I figure that I get enough salt from processed foods, but there are times that I’ve been awakened by muscle cramps and had to get up drink a small glass of salt water to ease them.
My father-in-law? I’ve seen him salt a potato chip before. I’m not fucking kidding. He eats his meal with a fork in one hand and a salt shaker in the other, salting each bite of food before it goes in his mouth.

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17 Responses to Pass the salt, please

  1. CVCHNTD#1 says:

    For some reason I have taken a liking to sea salt. Also dried habanero. Guys. Don’t grind the dried habanero in the same coffee mill as the morning brew. Girlfriend did not like that.

    But. Generally agree. Salt is okay, but pepper is better.

  2. nonncom says:

    Once I eliminated added salt, I realized just how much salt is already in the food I eat….reducing salt helped me lose weight, since water weighs 8 pounds to the gallon, and salt will make you hold water….as far as leg cramps, I found 2 tablespoons of vinegar dissolved in 8 ounces of water to be a remedy, if you can stand up to get to the kitchen….

    • Terry says:

      Cold pickle juice will take care of it.
      I drink A little from the jar sometimes just cause I like it.
      There was a Titan’s preseason game here years ago where it was so hot, the players were drinking it for the cramps.

      • Andrew says:

        Yup. Pickle Juice. Much better for you than Gatorade. Basically the modern version of the Roman ‘posca’ which was vinegared water, which the Gladiators drank during their workouts, and was served to the legions also.

        I never throw an ’empty’ pickle jar away during the summer.

        • crow says:

          A pickle & a cup of juice before bed every night worked for me unless I happen to forget (even once). I’ve switched to a 20 ounce Gatorade every day & all the cramps went away, even if I forget once in a while.

  3. I read somewhere a long time ago that your predilection for salt is set in the womb. And it is easily modified. I used to salt BLT sammiches.

    same with sugar. Once you alter your intake, your taste buds will actually revolt if you attempt to eat something over loaded with salt or sugar after reducing it.

    • Wirecutter says:

      Good points, especially with the sugar. A few years ago I could drain a soda in about 3 gulps. Now, on the rare occasion when I drink one, it usually gets flat and warm before I finish it.

  4. ChuckN says:

    Humans run on electricity, ergo we need conductive material i.e. salt water. Without salt are bodies muscles and organs start shutting down, especially our brains. As omnivores, our brains, and other organs, also need essential nutrients found exclusively in meat. Vegans can find similar vitamins via plant matter but it’s not quite the same (like needing 10w-30 but only having 5w-20). We’re told to shun carbohydrates even though they keep our bodies working all day and the sugars can directly influence the pleasure centers in our brains.

    In short, liberal nutrition Nazis deny all science and biology (a shock, I know) and specifically try to eat in a way that results in brain damage and body deterioration. And as anyone who’s been around a dieter can tell you, when they’re unhappy, they’ll make sure you’re unhappy too.

    • Tom in NC says:

      “In short, liberal nutrition Nazis deny all science and biology (a shock, I know) and specifically try to eat in a way that results in brain damage and body deterioration.”

      ^^^ THIS!! ++

      Anyone seen many healthy looking vegans or even vegetarians? Had one argue with the professor in a Biochem class that they were getting everything they needed in their superior diet. He shut her down hard in a scientific way, but she didn’t believe him. She was NOT healthy looking.

  5. Winston Smith says:

    I take no position on salt, but the original study linking hypertension and salt was done on 30some Japanese fishermen from some obscure village in northern Japan. An entire movement was based on those few guys.

  6. John Deaux says:

    Our processed foods and the seasoning we us has plenty of salt for our normal needs.
    I do remember way back when there were salt tablets by all the water coolers on the construction sites. Haven’t seen them in years

    • Wirecutter says:

      I make an effort to take in more salt during the summer months. That’s just common sense.
      When I was working at the warehouse the bosses told us at the orientation that Safeway used to supply salt tablets but the Tylenol poisonings years before killed that.

    • crazyeighter says:

      Remember how much salt there used to be on crackers??

  7. ed357 says:

    How old is your father-in-law…..

    and how’s his health?

    • Wirecutter says:

      In his mid 70s and normal health for that age. He’s a lot more active than I am, that’s for sure – he’s always building or improving something around his place.

  8. Mike_C says:

    If you’re basically in good health and have working kidneys then sodium is not that much of a problem; you can pretty much do as you like. On the other hand, if you have a problem in the cardiorenal axis (a medspeak way of saying that your body’s sodium-handling ability is fucked up, and downstream of that it messes with your heart) then you really do have to watch the salt.

    I’d get people who’d crash into heart failure* because they ate a big can of corn “nibblets” (you know how much sodium is in one of those things? Yuuuge. And unfortunately I love that shit; I’ll eat it straight from the can) or something like that. Now most of us could do that and not even feel bad, but some people that’s enough for them to retain humongo amounts of fluid and have to come to hospital for IV diuretics. I particularly remember an old Russian Jewish guy who we finally dried out (water retention, not booze) after a week in hospital. When he got home his synagogue threw a party for him to celebrate — featuring his favorite food, salt fish. The day after the party he was back in hospital with you guessed it, heart failure due to too much sodium intake. “But they were so nice, and it would have been impolite to turn down the salt fish!”

    *heart failure: NOT a heart attack. HF is peripheral edema (fluid retention) and pulmonary edema (fluid in lungs) with problems that follow downstream of that. HF comes in two flavors, one where the pumping function of the heart is impaired (HF with reduced EF; EF=ejection fraction), the other is where pumping is fine, but the ability of the heart to “relax” and fill with blood for the next beat is impaired (HF with preserved EF).
    Nocturnal leg cramps: try a glass of half orange juice and half tonic water with quinine. Unless you actually enjoy drinking salt water.

  9. Annie says:

    Biggest problems with salt are similar to the biggest problems with sugar – food has been refined to the point where almost all of the food value is gone. If you use unrefined salt – Himalayan pink salt, “Real Salt”, sea salt, etc. that still contains the trace minerals that your body needs it would be hard to get too much of it because you’re getting it in balance.

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