Why Salt Is Good For You Now?

 By: Ng Peng Hock
Sodium (or what we commonly refer to as salt) has always been accused as the culprit responsible for high blood pressure, especially if it is taken in large amount (more than 2000mg per day). The consequences of high blood pressure will be higher risks of developing heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, and stomach and nose cancer. Recently, this "bad gut" has become a star when research shows that it may reduce risk of heart disease. Of course, the salt mentioned here is not regular but potassium-enriched salt.

Taiwanese researchers at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Academia Sinica in Taipei conducted a study involving nearly 2,000 elderly Taiwanese men found that those who opted for a substitute - containing half potassium and half sodium chloride - were less likely to die of heart disease or stroke in the following 2 to 3 years. The study suggested the mineral potassium may possibly protect blood vessel function, thus helping lower the risk of death from heart disease or stroke.

The men were divided into 2 groups. One group was randomly assigned to eat food prepared using potassium-enriched salt while the other group ate food cooked with regular salt. In the following two-and-a-half years, those who had eaten food with potassium-enriched salt showed a 40 percent lower risk of dying from CVD (cardiovascular disease). Adjustments for previous medical history and age did not affect the results.

Again, this study has aroused some comments or concerns from other experts in the field. It is unarguable that a reduction in the intake of sodium can lead to a lower blood pressure. The trial findings also showed that sodium and potassium may also have important roles in determining CVD yet concrete evidence is still required to be collected using long term studies. Moreover, it is unclear that whether the trial was also accompanied by an increased intake of fruit and vegetables, which are rich sources of potassium.

Sodium and potassium are minerals found naturally in our bodies. They help regulate the body's water balance and maintain functions such as heart rhythm, muscle contraction and brain function. Studies have showed that diets high in potassium-rich food such as raisins, potatoes, bananas and orange juice, help maintain a healthy blood pressure.

Nevertheless, the bottom line for any healthy lifestyle is that one cannot depend solely on a single item. A balance diet complemented with moderate exercise is almost unavoidable. This is a universal law that is often ignored by many of us.
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