The great salt debate is raging again. Everyone who eats food knows that salt makes most dishes taste palatable. In a new study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, results suggest that people who consume more sodium and less potassium die sooner of heart problems than people who consume the converse.
In a Health.com story, one of the lead researchers, Elena V. Kuklina, believes that there is an underline factor to the provocative nature of her team’s findings. She believes that the study, which followed 12,000 Americans, doesn’t show that salt intake is inherently harmful, but when added to processed foods, that’s when it becomes problematic.
“We probably should take into account the whole diet and take a more comprehensive look,” Kuklina says. “Looking at a single micronutrient, we might just miss the whole picture.”
The group with the highest sodium-to-potassium ratio had a mortality risk about 50% higher during the study than the group with the lowest, according to the report by Kuklina and her colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Emory University, and the Harvard School of Public Health.
Naturally, a diet with a foundation of fruits and vegetables is low in sodium and high in potassium. Some great sources of potassium are bananas, potatoes, and raisins. Sodium is important also and should not be the “bogey man.” Celery and spinach, among other whole, green-leafy vegetables are perfectly balanced sources of sodium.
Sodium is important to the bodies cellular processes. Potassium and sodium work together to regulate proper ratios in the body in order to prevent dehydration or supersaturation. If we lose too much sodium, potassium is pulled out of the cell to achieve the ideal balance.
There is a debate in health food circles whether or not sea salt is a better source of sodium than table salt. Some believe that sea salt is highly marketed scheme to appease nutritionally conscious people, who may have a hard time giving up salt.
Others contend sea salt, which is sodium chloride extracted from the sea, or black salt, which is harvested and colored with charcoal, have detoxifying properties that promote optimal health. Usually, those claims are mostly anecdotal.