Popular condiment healthy in moderation despite reputation

Everyone’s been in this situation – you’ve just bought an order of french fries and after reaching into the bag and eating one, you discover they need more salt. There’s clearly a huge difference between the famous salty fries everyone loves and a bland batch one unfortunate fellow stumbles upon. Sprinkling salt onto any meal can transform it from being tasteless to delicious. But is this zesty element actually good for you?

Jeanette Andrade, graduate assistant at McKinley Health Center and registered dietitian, takes a look at the myths behind this common kitchen ingredient.

Salt causes high blood pressure, kidney disease and stroke: FALSE

In 1934, Duke University researcher Walter Kempner started treating patients with malignant hypertension (high blood pressure) and kidney disease with “The Rice Diet,” which eliminated salt from one’s diet.

However, modern experiments have shown there’s no reason for people with normal blood pressure to limit their sodium intake. If patients already have high blood pressure, reducing the amount of salt they consume could be beneficial.

“There are some short term studies indicating salt could lead to these (diseases) while other studies do not show this outcome at all,” Andrade said.

The bottom line is that salt does not cause high blood pressure, nor does it help it. Those who have normal blood pressure are encouraged to have salt in moderation.

Infants can die from consuming salt: TRUE

In 1962, seven infants died at Binghamton Hospital in New York. Upon investigation, examiners found the baby formula contained salt instead of sugar. Pediatricians stated that an overdose of salt could upset the balance in the body and cause pressure that may induce heart failure in a young child. Be sure to take precautionary measures before feeding a child salty foods.

Eliminating salt from your diet is healthier: FALSE

Like any kind of food, too much salt can be unhealthy. But if you eliminated salt from your diet altogether, it would be lethal. Salt provides many benefits like maintaining electrolyte balance and regulating blood pressure.

“You need salt on a daily basis,” Andrade said. “If not, it can cause heart issues, muscle weakness, etc.”

Salt is among one of the most important minerals our body needs. According to Andrade, researchers find no difference in deaths and cardiovascular events between low salt and high salt groups. There is not enough natural salt in our foods, so we must supplement our diet.

Salt can help whiten your teeth: TRUE

There’s no need to bother with the costs and problems of whitening strips when salt can be used a home remedy to whiten teeth. Simply combine a solution of 75 percent lemon juice and 25 percent salt, then swish and rinse your mouth with warm water to avoid any acidic damage. You can also use a toothbrush and brush directly on your teeth. Avoid sensitivity and save your money by utilizing the saltshaker.

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The consensus: salt is not as bad as people make it out to be. There is no need to feel terribly guilty for sprinkling on some extra salt to add some punch to your meal. With that said, please pass the salt!

Eli is a freshman in DGS.