Healthy Living: Salt Intake, Part 2

by CJFosdick on February 24, 2010

Salt’s ability to preserve food was one of the foundations of civilization, and was as important as the discovery of fire and the invention of the wheel to humankind’s development.

One of my favorite books as a teenager was, “Below the Salt”, by Thomas Costain, copyright: 1957.  “Time was strangely rolled back 700 years so that he (Costain) was hearing an account of  those stirring, violent events in England and Europe that led to the Magna Carta, thus contributing to the liberties of future generations: with a story … straight from history…”*
This book also points out the importance of salt to the study of the past.

In Costain’s book, when Lords, Kings, and Queens would give what would be the equivalent of a state dinner today. Participants would sit at a long, narrow table. Part way down the table would be a bowl of salt. (Then, there were no salt shakers.) Those seated above the salt were the important, landed people; those below the salt were the common people. Only the important people could have salt with their dinner. Those seated below the salt could not. Have you ever wondered what the saying, “He isn’t worth his salt.” means? You now know.

Another saying that has come down from the past is, “You are the salt of the earth.” This particular quote, from the New Testament, Matthew 5:13, was said by Jesus. “He said this to his disciples to show them how valuable they were.  This saying is commonly used today to describe someone who is of particular value to society.  In addition, the preservative quality of salt is in view here to show how the disciples were called on to preserve the society and the world around from moral decay. On another occasion, according to the Gospels, Jesus commanded his followers to ‘have salt within them.’**

The early history of salt parallels the history of civilization and is fascinating reading. Now, in Part I of my blog on healthy living (Healthy Living: Government Control of Salt Intake, Posted :2/17/10) I made the argument that government control of salt intake is NOT needed. What is needed is better education and general knowledge of Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) and salt intake, and more pressure of food producers to eliminate about 1/3 of added salt to their products.

A lot has changed since the beginning of the twentieth century when salt was scarce. After that, salt became plentiful and cheap, and people started using more salt than was healthy, because, let’s face it, salt makes food taste good.  However, medical studies have proven time and again, that too much salt is unhealthy. A person actually needs only about 500 milligrams of salt a day, yet most people eat about ten times that amount. That is a whopping 5000mg a day. The recommended amount of salt for those with hypertension is 1500 mg a day. Any reduction of salt intake, however, will help.

Salt can hide in many processed foods. So, try to eat mostly produce, fruits, and fresh meats.
In fact, if you eat such healthy foods, you get enough sodium without any use of added salt. Avoid condiments, ham, bacon, salsa, cheese, cold cuts, olives, broths, and anything processed. Almost 80% of the average person’s daily salt intake comes from processed foods, so you need to check the sodium content on food labels. Some people are more sensitive to salt than others. For these, excessive salt intake will cause their blood pressure to rise.  About half the American people are salt sensitive, such as African Americans, the elderly, and people with diabetes. If you are doubtful of whether or not you have high blood pressure, check with your doctor. He/she will tell you. Then, make sure you follow your doctor’s orders. ***

In my next Healthy Living blog, I will show some of the common processed food, their salt content, and some suggestions on how to modify the salt content in these high-sodium products.

*Book available at Amazon and on ebay auctions. It is very worthwhile reading if you like history.

** “History of Salt – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 1/5/2010

***Longevity: Salt and High Blood Pressure – Hypertension and Salt, 2/22/2010

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

The Health Dude February 24, 2010 at 9:42 pm

“Health is wealth” is very much known to all and everyone wants good health. That means no one wants to leave this wealth. So, Let us build a food habit discipline, keep pace with work, rest and or ex


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