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Hey, salt is OK again!
December 9, 2011 - Stephen Browne
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) seems to indicate that maybe salt isn't so bad for you after all.
Of course for years doctors have been warning that too much salt is bad for your heart. Now a study by Professor Martin O'Donnell, Professor of Translational Medicine, NUI Galway and Dr Salim Yusuf, Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) at McMaster University in Canada and Hamilton Health Sciences, says maybe too much salt is bad for your heart, but so is too little.
They say higher intake of sodium was associated with an increased risk of strokes and heart attacks, low intake was associated with an increased risk of congestive heart failure, but moderate salt intake is associated with the lowest risk of either. So now salt has joined the ranks of maligned substances like alcohol which are grudgingly admitted to be good for you in moderation.
I am reminded of what my son's late godmother, and daughter's namesake, an Englishwoman named Judith Hatton told me once. Judith had learned to cook from an Englishwoman who cooked for a British battalion in World War I (yes, One.) That was three hot meals a day, every day, for years without a break.
Judith told me that what this indefatigable lady told her was, "Pay absolutely no attention to what doctors say about diet, because in ten years they'll be saying something else."
I've lived long enough to see that happen many times with many different foods now. Anyone remember when eggs were bad for you?
Commenting on the study, columnist and retired physician Theodore Dalrymple said, "If everyone could live a year longer by never eating his favorite food, would the light be worth the candle? Conversely, if life could be prolonged by eating something detestable, would it be worth living?"
I think this sentiment was best expressed by a poster I saw in the halls of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at Oklahoma University when I was doing post-graduate work there. I think it had won a contest at the advertising department.
It was a picture of a luscious strawberry, half-dipped in chocolate and still dripping.
Below it was the legend, "Nobody ever lay on their deathbed and said, 'I wish I had eaten more rice cakes.'"
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