Salt may not be as bad for you as suspected


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How bad did I suspect it was?

I figured it out years ago when I was cycling more than 100 miles per day. I felt crappi when I had insufficient salt, so I started eating a decent amount of it.


Were I prone to referring to old memes, I would ask you if you craved that mineral. And I am. So I’m asking.


Obligatory Brawndo plug!


I rarely add salt to anything except eggs and pasta, but everything comes pre-salted these days. But since I have high blood pressure I boned up a bit, and got the clear message that it’s mostly genetic. Weight and smoking matter a lot, salt and alcohol matter a little.

This topic really speaks to me, as I am having a lot of trouble lately with insufficient electrolyte absorption. I think my case is largely due to a combination of eating very little modern-style “processed” foods and doing moderate or greater exercise most days. I drink water with electrolyte tablets almost every single day, and I had been taking salt/electrolyte capsules every day. Lately I’ve been cutting back on the latter, but that seems to have been ill-advised.

I used to completely believe the conventional wisdom on dietary salt, though. My ex was diagnosed with hypertension and we started eating accordingly. As I got used to eating less salty foods I began to notice just how salty everything really was, reinforcing my belief in that conventional wisdom. Yet now, here I am, about to wander down to REI to replenish my supply of concentrated sodium supplements. (She succumbed to a massive cerebral hemorrhage last year, which proves… something?)

It is terribly ironic though, to be a middle-aged American male who needs to eat more salt and maybe get a bit less exercise.


Sadly the “Stop eating salt!!!1” from the government is based on the average older American, who is probably on a blood pressure medication. My dad has had mild hypertension for decades, so he limits his salt intake. But if you are healthy it’s no more bad for you than anything else. And if you exercise, of course you need way more electrolytes than that. Do yard work in a dark t-shirt, and when you can actually see the salt stains at the end of the day, you’ll know not to be afraid of salt. The government doesn’t help, since they don’t do a great job of explaining that salt does not cause hypertension, it is simply contra-indicated in people who are taking a drug that does the exact opposite. Lowering BP by forcing water out of your system with diuretics is, sadly, the easy way to treat the symptom with the sledgehammer rather than a cure. Yes, some people are genetically predisposed to HTN and some will get it no matter what. But for most of us in the first world, the “cure” is to not get over-fed and over-slow.

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"Here are 3 more ways to spot a psychopath…

  1. They go heavy on the salt."

The part of your brain that manages the smell signals from your nose is also closely linked with the cognitive dysfunctions that lead to psychopathic behaviors, explain the researchers from Macquarie University. Where does salt come in? People with a poor sense of smell have problems tasting their food, and so tend to use more salt

Sounds dubious to me. There are loads of spices and seasonings one could use besides salt. One might suppose that a taste for KimChi or curry implies psychosis as well.

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I sometimes stand at the kitchen sink and salt my potato chips bite-by-bite, my family makes me have my own bowl of popcorn so not to ruin it for them, and I make french fries look like the Swiss alps. Blood pressure is normal, no chronic illnesses, haven’t killed anyone. Case closed.


Of course, as a long distance cyclist you can sweat out your own salts at an alarming rate. Most people of the sit-on-your-ass-all-day-long persuasion won’t have that problem.

Gary Taubes, the science journalist of ‘is dietary fat really the villain?’ fame has written a few ‘is dietary salt really the villain?’ pieces as well. Spoiler: signs point to no.


I’m over 50 and not an exercise addict, but I love me salt, have normal BP and no family history. Was at a seder last friday with a bountiful table, all utterly tasteless due to no salt cooking! You can’t pot roast a brisket without salt, it leaches out whatever salt it had to begin with. The turkey survived best, kosher brined bird and roasted. Maybe I have high salt tolerance, but man that was torture.

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Some 23rd Century commentary from JMS’s short-lived series “Crusade”

[quote=“Max Eilerson”]Bring me more of these… Salted. I work better with salt.

Did you know that in the 20th century they actually thought that salt was bad for you? Listen to the animals I say. The lion will sit down with the lamb to share the salt lick.

Good enough for them, good enough for me.[/quote]


Most won’t. But that also depends on other factors like the level of sodium in their diet and the temperature.

Personally, I’m relatively sedentary but I ended up with some trouble one day.

I changed around what I was eating one day, incidentally ending up eating a lot more foods cooked from raw ingredients without salting them and almost no processed foods, resulting in me consuming almost no sodium that entire day.

On top of it that night my room ended up relatively warm compared to normal. And in the morning I woke up feeling pretty bad, including the shivers.

I had the good sense to drink the gatorade I happened to have in the fridge. And later on when it opened I went to the walk in clinic and the doctor confirmed that I had a mild case of heat exhaustion likely caused by my lack of sodium. Naturally of course if I hadn’t drank that in the morning it would have gotten worse.

So yeah, after considering the fact that consuming too little salt can directly lead into heat stroke which if untreated can be fatal, and having experienced it myself. I don’t really care much about warnings that salt is evil and people are eating too much if it, and I just stick to my average consumption of it.

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It’s totally dubious. But still interesting. There’s a film about a psycho killer, can’t remember which, and the first thing we see when we’re introduced to our antihero is him dumping an ungodly amount of salt on his diner meal. I didn’t really get that until I read the article I posted. Anyway, I’m not saying it’s true, just worth a look.

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