Cardiovascular research scientist James J. DiNicolantonio, a doctor of pharmacy at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri, says everything we’ve been brainwashed to believe about salt intake is wrong.
Not only does consuming high levels of salt not cause hypertension or heart disease, but eating too little of it promotes weight gain, fuels insulin resistance, and boosts your risk of diabetes. Dr. DiNicolantonio detailed his exhaustive research in his book The Salt Fix.
After reviewing more than 500 medical papers and scientific studies, DiNicolantonio discovered that groups that consume a high-salt diet, such as the Koreans, Japanese and French, disprove the myth that a high-salt diet is bad for your health. If anything, these groups have extremely low instances of high blood pressure, heart disease and cardiovascular disease-induced death.
“There was never any sound scientific evidence to support this low salt idea,” DiNicolantonio wrote in the Daily Mail. “What’s more, as I explain in my new book, eating too little of it can cause insulin resistance, increased fat storage and may even increase the risk of diabetes — not to mention decreasing our sex drive. If you’ve been struggling to cut your intake, it may come as a relief to learn your salt cravings are normal, a biological need akin to our thirst for water.”
Just like the myth that a high-fat promotes heart disease and weight gain, the myths surrounding salt was perpetuated by faulty science.
“Two French scientists named Ambard and Beauchard are credited for inventing the salt-blood pressure hypothesis in 1904 based on findings from just 6 of their patients,” DiNicolantonio writes in The Salt Fix.
DiNicolantonio said researchers misinterpreted and misused their data, which perpetuated this fallacy that a high-salt diet is bad for you.
“Evidence in medical literature suggests approximately 80 per cent of people with normal blood pressure do not suffer any signs of raised blood pressure — none at all — when they increase their salt intake,” wrote DiNicolantonio, an associate editor of the British Medical Journal’s Open Heart. “And even among those with full-blown high blood pressure, about 55 per cent — are totally immune to salt’s effects.”
James DiNicolantonio said clinical experiments on rats also promoted this bogus “salt-is-bad-for-you” theory because the rats were force-fed enormous amounts of salt that were toxic to their tiny bodies (it’s like a human consuming massive vats of salt). Moreover, the salt-sensitive rats used in the clinical studies had already been bred to suffer from hypertension.
So the next time you crave something salty, feel free to indulge, DiNicolantonio suggests. Consuming enough salt can prevent heart disease and improve your mental focus and energy. Plus, it’s tasty.