Salt, Bad for You? Nope, Never Was

Gary Taubes cracks open flimsy anti-salt science

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 4, 2012 7:29 PM CDT | Updated Jun 9, 2012 7:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – Time to crack open those Sun Chips, folks: Looks like salt is not only good for you, avoiding salt may be bad for you. In a daring New York Times piece, Gary Taubes challenges the standard salt-is-deadly wisdom by rolling out a few studies and quoting a few experts. "This eat-less-salt argument has been surprisingly controversial—and difficult to defend," he writes. "Not because the food industry opposes it, but because the actual evidence to support it has always been so weak."

For 40 years, we've heard how salt raises our blood pressure and causes life-shortening hypertension. Turns out that's just a hypothesis, though, and studies supporting it are remarkably thin. Meanwhile, a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine and research in Italy have found that reducing salt intake can lead to heart disease and premature death. The punchline: Salt intake has remained steady for 50 years, despite the dire warnings. "This consistency ... suggests that how much salt we eat is determined by physiological demands," writes Taubes, "not diet choices." Click for the full article. (Or see why fast food is saltier in the US.)

Salt: no longer sinful?
Salt: no longer sinful?   (Shutterstock)
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