Salt of the Earth – Sodium and Plant Based Diets

Salt of the Earth – Sodium and Plant Based Diets

September 15, 2019 100 By Ewald Bahringer


“Salt of the Earth –
Sodium and Plant-Based Diets” Reduction of salt consumption by just
15% could save the lives of millions. If we could cut our salt intake
by a half teaspoon a day, which is achievable by avoiding salty
foods and not adding salt to our food, it might prevent 22% of stroke deaths
and 16% of fatal heart attacks, potentially more than if we were
able to successfully treat people with blood pressure pills. An intervention in our kitchens
that may be more powerful than interventions
in our pharmacies. One little dietary tweak could help more
than billions of dollars worth of drugs. What would that mean in the U.S.? Tens of thousands of
lives saved every year. This simple step could be as
beneficial on a public health scale as interventions aimed at smoking
cessation, weight reduction, and giving people blood pressure
and cholesterol lowering medications. And that’s not even getting
people down to target. Here’s the level everyone
should get under, exceeded by most Americans
over the age of 3, and here’s the recommended upper limit
of salt intake for African-Americans, those with hypertension,
and everyone over the age of 40. Processed foods have so much salt added
that even if we avoid the saltiest foods and don’t add our own salt, that
would just get us down to here, but still that would
save up to nearly a hundred thousand
American lives every year. So “given that approximately 75% of
dietary salt comes from processed foods, the individual approach is
described as “impractical.” We have to get food companies
to stop killing so many people. And the good news is
“several manufacturers are reducing the salt
content” of their foods, “but other manufacturers are increasing
the salt levels in their products.” “For example, the addition
of salt to poultry, meats, and fish appears to be occurring
on a massive scale.” The #1 source of sodium
for kids and teens is pizza. For adults over 51, it’s bread,
but between the ages of 20 and 50, the greatest contribution of sodium
to the diet is not canned soups, pretzels, or potato chips, but chicken, because of all the salt and other additives
that are injected into the meat. This is one of the
reasons, in general, animal foods contain higher amounts
of sodium than plant foods. Given the sources of sodium, complying
with the recommendations for salt reduction would “require large deviations
from current eating behaviors.” We’re talking a sharp increase in
vegetables, fruit, beans, whole grains, and lower intake of meats
and refined grain products. As might be expected, reducing the
amount of sodium would necessitate a “precipitous drop” in meat consumption
for men and women of all ages. You can see why there’s so much industry
pressure to confuse people about sodium. How do vegetarians do? Nonvegetarians get nearly 3500 milligrams
of sodium a day on average, the equivalent of about a teaspoon
and a half of table salt. Now the U.S. Dietary guidelines
recommend getting under 2300 mg a day. The American Heart Association says
no way; get under 1500 mg a day. Vegetarians did better, but still double
the American Heart Association limit. In Europe, it looks like vegetarians do
better, slipping under the 2300 mg cut-off, but it appears the only dietary group
that nails the American Heart Association recommendation are those eating
the most plant-based of diets.