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Salt: Another Big Food Sin

Oh, Salt. You’re just like fat: delicious, nutritious, and deadly if taken in excess.

This Phillipine news item highlights the dangers of a salty diet: hypertension, high blood pressure, heart disease. Serious business.

Salt is an essential human nutrient in moderation. Too little of it will kill you as surely as too much. But the average American (or Phillipine) diet errs on the side of too much. Our salty cravings cause our blood to flow too fast and our bodies to retain too much fluid. This can lead to major health complications.

We get it. Cut back on the salt. Check.

There’s just one little problem. As my editor said when I started on this article: WHAT CAN WE EAT?

Salt causes blood pressure issues. Fat makes us fat. Or maybe that’s carbs? Best to avoid both. Sugar rots our teeth as well as packing on pounds. Red meat is carcinogenic if grilled and a heart attack on a plate if fried. Eggs carry too much cholestrol. Anything might be recalled at any moment as a carrier of food-borne illness.

What’s a wise parent supposed to put on the table each day?

Just food. That seems to the consensus of those who know. From Michael Pollan’s sage advice to shop around the margins of the grocery store to the popular Nourishing Traditions cookbook, experts on eating say the best approach is to stick to simple, wholesome foods.

Pollan actually suggests sticking with foods your grandmother would have used, but he clearly never met my grandmother. The woman never met an artificial color she didn’t like.

The trick of course is to eat everything in (you guessed it) moderation.

I am licking the salt off my fingers as I write this. I had kale chips for dinner. Those have to be healthy, right? They’re made from green vegetables. Green vegetables slathered in oil and salt, but vegetables all the same. My toddler goes nuts for these, and I get to be the coolest mom on the block for having kids whose favorite foods include “kale”.

I’m going to stop reading the health news now and have a second helping.

Photo: Quinn Dombrowski

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