by Ron Brown, author of The Body Fat Guide
"Ron Brown is a certified fitness trainer who doesn't have an inch of flab on his body. He'll tell you what you can do to become fit and trim too."
TALK TO AMERICA, Washington DC
bagels, pancakes, cupcakes, cookies, and breakfast cereals contain a hidden
killer that has been shown to increase death from heart disease and stroke. No,
I am not referring to fat. You probably aren't aware of the taste of this killer
as it lies undetected within your Tim Horton's bagel or your Cocoa Puffs. The
large quantities of baked goods and cereals consumed in the Western diet make
this killer particularly lethal. It is found in wholegrain products as well as
in refined flour foods, and it is in foods that are either high or low in fat,
trans fat, fiber, gluten, and sugar. This killer is salt!
Unlike overt salt contained in snack foods and the salt that many people know is added to processed foods like luncheon meats, cheese, soups, sauces, gravies, and canned foods, the unsuspecting population remains largely unaware of the amount of hidden salt contained in foods that people consider to be low in salt or salt-free, like baked goods and cereal. Even raw meat and poultry, fresh from the butcher department, is often infused with salt. When you add it all up, the Western diet provides about two teaspoons of salt a day.
Salt occurs naturally as sodium in whole foods, like fruits and vegetables, in amounts that are proportionally less than potassium contained along with it. In its plant form, the combination of low sodium and high potassium is healthy for us. Unfortunately, this natural ratio of sodium and potassium found in plant foods is inverted in the Western diet due to the addition of sodium chloride, or common table salt. It doesn't matter if sodium chloride is refined or iodized, or whether it is white, pink or blue, or if it comes from the Himalayan Mountains, the Celtic sea, or from the moon, the addition of sodium chloride is not a suitable replacement for sodium as it exists naturally within plant foods.
Researchers have shown that salt raises blood pressure in people with and without hypertension. Although high blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke, there have been no research studies that have conclusively linked salt intake directly to these diseases—until now! Recent research conclusively determined that salt intake is directly linked to cardiovascular disease and stroke. Strazzullo et al. (2009) examined 13 studies conducted between 1996-2008 with 170,000 people and over 10,000 vascular events. The researchers estimated that if the consumption of salt was reduced by one teaspoon a day for a year, it would prevent 1.4 million deaths from stroke, and 3 million deaths from cardiovascular disease around the world. This is a red flag that raises the questionable reputation of salt to that of a killer lurking in our food, whether or not we voluntarily shake it on, or food processors add it in, or whether the salt is visible or hidden.
Strazzullo, P., D’Elia, L., Kandala, N., & Cappuccio, F. P. (2009). Salt intake, stroke, and cardiovascular disease: meta-analysis of prospective studies. BMJ, 339, b4567.