STOP villainizing salt!

We rarely eat one food at a time.

And that’s the biggest problem with nutrition studies—they tend to focus on a single food or ingredient.

When in reality, foods contain many different components. Healthy options contain various vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and more.

Meanwhile, unhealthy foods—packaged, processed, fast foods—contain a plethora of ingredients that even I can’t pronounce.

Yet researchers seem to throw this knowledge to the wayside. Instead, they put forth so much energy into making salt the villain.

But… why salt? It’s the one nutrient that can almost never be singled out as a standalone factor. I mean, who sits around and just eats salt?!

Yes—I’m on a rant here. But for a good reason…

There’s always more to the anti-salt narrative

According to a new study, adding salt to food at the table was linked to a higher risk of premature death and lower life expectancy.

More specifically, researchers analyzed salt habits of more than 500,000 people from the U.K. Biobank. Compared to those who never or rarely salted their food, those who added salt had a 28 percent increased risk of premature death (dying before the age of 75).

Do you know what this means?

I’m going to die prematurely (regardless of any other health measure, apparently.) Because I use salt on everything I cook.

What’s more, at the age of 50, life expectancy dropped by 1.5 years in women and 2.28 years in men who added salt to their food.

And for the real kicker…

Researchers finally explained those increased risks were weakened by increasing intake of high-potassium foods, like fresh produce. (Ah, maybe I won’t die prematurely after all.)

But, do you see why this is so frustrating? Because headlines everywhere scream: You will DIE if you use SALT!

To shake… or not to shake?

Because this was an observational study (without controlled variables), it cannot prove cause and effect.

And the authors do make a point that very few studies have looked at adding salt to the table. (Even though it’s estimated that this habit accounts for six to 20 percent of all sodium intake.)

However, this directly contradicts another recent study that linked higher sodium intake to improved life expectancy.

In fact, according to the author of that study, “the difference in 24-hour sodium intake between those who never/rarely added salt and those who always did is a minuscule 0.17 g or less than 4 percent. It is highly unlikely that such negligible quantity has any impact on blood pressure, not to mention cardiovascular mortality or life expectancy.”

At the end of the day, I’m going to assume that those who use the most table salt on top of their food probably have poor eating habits in the first place.

The key is ridding your diet of unhealthy, processed junk—and focusing on fresh, healthy foods. Because when you follow a balanced diet full of whole foods, salt intake is not unhealthy!

One last note before I go: if you suffer from high blood pressure and you love to add salt to your food, talk with your doctor to better determine how much salt you can safely consume.

Otherwise, the salt issue does not simply lie “on or off” the kitchen table—so please do not inherently be afraid of that shaker… even when cooking today’s homemade Thanksgiving feast. Your kidneys will thank you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Until next time,
Dr. Fred

P.S. There’s one fact about salt that most people don’t know. I tell you all about it in the March 2015 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives (“’Big change’ to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for 2015”). If you’re not already a subscriber, click here to become one!

“Adding salt to food at the table linked to higher risk of premature death.” Medical News Today, 07/13/2022. (