Conventional wisdom assumes that diets high in salt cause high blood pressure, stroke and they are generally unhealthy for you. This was my assumption most of my fitness life. My mother always told me high blood pressure ran in my family, she never brought up the fact that most of my family was overweight and out of shape and maybe salt wasn’t the major contributing factor.
It is my new found understanding that it is not salt that causes high blood pressure in overweight and out of shape people, but rather a person being overweight and out of shape. More than salt, high blood pressure can be attributed to too little magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
So is salt bad for you? Absolutely not. Sugar is the worse ingredient a person can consume, but salt isn’t.
Eskimos have the lowest rates of cancer, heart diseases and diabetes on the planet. 78% of their diet is blubber and because of the cold weather they are forced to eat a lot more salt than the average American. Switzerland and Japan consume the greatest amount of salt on the planet and also possess the longest longevity in terms of life span. The Mediterranean diet (see an example below) is generally accepted as the best diet that exist for cardiovascular health and it has 40% more salt than the typical American diet.
Most people get only about 5% of their sodium from table salt. 75% of the sodium we Americans consume is in processed and restaurant foods. So instead of blaming salt, follow these steps and live a healthier life:
- No fast food
- Eat slower – chew food completely before swallowing
- Eat home cooked meals (more relaxing than eating in the car)
- Have a fruit and/or vegetable with every meal
- Get a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise every day
- Practice one hour of meditation a week. If you don’t have time for one hour a week, then meditate TWO hours per week.
Typical Mediterranean Diet:
6 oz. Greek yogurt topped with ½ cup strawberries and 1 tsp. honey
1 slice whole-grain toast with half mashed avocado
1 whole-grain pita with 2 tbsp. hummus and stuffed with 1 cup fresh greens and 2 slices tomatoes
1 cup minestrone soup
1 medium orange
Water with 1 lemon wedge
1/8 cup sliced almonds
1/8 cup peanuts
3 oz. salmon topped with 1 tsp. tarragon and 1 tsp. mustard over
½ cup couscous, ½ cup zucchini, and 4 spears asparagus
½ cup arugula
½ cup baby spinach
1 tbsp. shaved Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. vinaigrette dressing
8 oz. glass of water
Small bunch grapes
½ cup lemon sorbet