Pouring salt in a wound

Pouring salt in a wound

People are well advised to take the results of health studies with a grain of (sea) salt.

In the 1973 Woody Allen movie "Sleeper," there is a scene where scientists of the future lampoon faddish health foods like wheat germ and organic honey as "charmed substances that some years ago were thought to contain life-preserving properties."

"You mean there was no deep fat? No steak or cream pies or ... hot fudge?" said one physician.

"Those were thought to be unhealthy ... precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true," comes the reply.

In that comic-futuresque spirit comes news of a report commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control that states the consumption of two or three teaspoons of salt a day is no longer considered to pose a health threat. Indeed, the CDC study concluded that there is not only no benefit to be derived by reducing salt consumption but there may be a risk to consuming less than one teaspoon a day.

Working on behalf of the CDC, the National Academies Institute of Medicine reviewed scores of studies and found no relationship between salt intake and health outcome.

It's long been an axiom in the medical world that salt contributes to high blood pressure, which contributes to heart disease. Not true, according to the study. Further, restricting salt consumption contributes to higher levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, substances that cause heart disease.

There are, the study reports, good salts and bad salts. Sea salt, produced from the evaporation of seawater, supposedly is the better one, as opposed to table salt. But who knows — some future study may say the opposite. In the meantime, have a cream pie or hot fudge on ice cream. What harm can it do?

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion


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