This Functional MD Wants You To Change Your Relationship With Salt

Salt has quite the bad rap. Many associate the mineral with heart disease and stroke—one study even found that reducing salt intake could lower blood pressure (which is linked to those aforementioned health concerns). That’s why we were stunned to find this little tidbit from Frank Lipman, M.D.’s The New Rules of Aging Well: “It’s nonsense that salt is bad for your heart.” Quite a bold statement from the functional medicine physician, one that he backs wholeheartedly on the mindbodygreen podcast.

So, why then, do we hark on the extra sodium? Below, Lipman tells all. 

Here’s the skinny on salt.

The reason why salt earned its reputation is because it’s abundant in ultra-processed, industrial foods. “Thats where most of your salt is,” says Lipman. In fact, the American Heart Association (AHA) notes that people consume more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day—the recommended amount, for reference, is no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day—and most of it comes from processed, pre-packaged food, not what you sprinkle on at the table.

Since these processed foods are associated with metabolic dysfunction already (which is linked to heart-related concerns), it makes sense why there’d be a hesitation towards salt. But it’s not so much about limiting the salt itself—we should cease the processed junk that contains those waves upon waves of sodium. 

“If you’re not eating [ultra-processed foods], having some Himalayan salt is not bad at all,” Lipman adds. “Your salt intake is usually too big because of all the processed foods. If you eliminate that, salt becomes a non-issue.” Rather, focus on good quality salt, and he says you’re set: Himalayan salt is chock-full of minerals (including iron, zinc, and magnesium), and Lipman regards sea salt and Redmond salt as high-quality as well. “If you’re going to use salt, use decent salt,” he adds. “

This doesn’t mean you should pour mountains of table salt onto your meals. (“Table salt is not particularly good for you, so why even bother?” says Lipman.) Plus, getting your fill of minerals and nutrients through food alone might nip your salty craving altogether. But if you’re partial to a dash or two of good, high-quality Himalayan salt, by all means. When it comes to budding a new relationship with the mineral, Lipman says it’s time to focus on the quality.

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