War on Salt

There is a very interesting argument just gearing up over at sciencebasedmedicine.org.  Dr. Steven Novella (of The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe podcast and NeuroLogica blog) has introduced to us “The War on Salt”.

Accepted medical research indicates that people with high blood pressure need to decrease their salt intake to prevent cardiovascular problems later in life, but it sounds like the “war on salt” is about to come a little closer all of us. 

It seems that food awareness is a sleepy giant that is starting to stumble up onto its feet.  I know the raw/vegan/organic and “natural” foods movements have been around for decades.  And as Dr. Novella mentions, New York City has recently legislated the amount of trans fat that is allowed in certain foods.  As (literal) consumers, we are having to do a LOT of research before we eat.  It’s becoming a bit harder to plead ignorance for the  PBJ/white bread and Mac-n-Cheese diet.

Okay, it can be easy.  No processed foods, less eating out.  Fresh veggies, meats, dairy, eggs, whole grain breads, and fewer starches, sugars and sodium.  Easy enough, right?  Gets a little harder when you’re trying to work, go to school, wrangle kids, maybe single-parent, less income, two jobs, volunteer work, kids’ afterschool activities, Tivo, writing new blog posts, homework…but with some effort, it can be done.  After all, eating healthy has an extremely important and profound effect on our quality of life, so it can be argued that a little – or a lot – of attention should be paid. 

But – gah!  I was feeling overwhelmed in the grocery store last night.  Is  organic vs. conventional celery significantly nutritionally different.  I don’t think so.  Is there a benefit to eating raw food?  Might be.  Might milk from hormone-injected cows have a deterimental effect on my health?  I don’t have a clue.   I walk past most of the the pre-packaged foods in the store these days, but even if one wants to buy “fresh” starting materials, the choices are many.  Do I need to care if the cattle I’m going to ingest was grass-fed or corn-fed?  Well, I think grass-fed tastes better, but that’s completely subjective.   

Any time someone opens a conversation about healthy eating and the magical combinations of foods that will increase your chances of immortality (ooo – I know this one – it’s zero!   Or wait…is that infinity?), fierce arguments start up.  The comments section of Dr. Novella’s post has shot up from 10 to 18 in the time it’s taken me to write this post, and there are some great ideas being discussed.  Right now the hot topics are the role of government intervention in public choices, and personal responsibility.  *rubbing hands together gleefully*   Ooooo!  It’s going to be a bloody one!

As for me, constant vigilance!  I’m always updating my personal food choice habits (trying to keep up with the latest research rather than fads), but for now I think I’ll stick with the $0.99 conventional celery over the $2.99 organically grown stuff.  And maybe I’ll use a bit less salt.

War on Salt

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