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Pass the Salt (But Not That Pink Himalayan Stuff)

salt_shaker_on_white

Humans, like many other animals, crave the taste of salt. Animals frequent salt licks, humans have traded salt for equal weights of gold, and the word “salary” comes from the Roman soldier’s allowance for purchasing salt. Salt appears in our language in idioms like “worth its salt” and “salt of the earth.” Shakespeare’s play King Lear is a variant of a folktale where a daughter tells her father she loves him as much as meat loves salt. In a murder mystery I read years ago, a character listed the four food groups as sweet, salty, sticky, and chocolate.

It’s no fair: everything that tastes good turns out to be bad for us. We love the taste of salt, but dietary guidelines tell us we should all limit our sodium intake to less than 2.3 grams (2300 mg) a day to avoid high blood pressure and death from cardiovascular disease. And those who are over 51, African American, or who have high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease or diabetes should limit their intake even further, to 1500mg a day or less. (Note: the salt molecule consists of an atom of sodium and an atom of chloride; 40% of the weight is sodium, so 1500 mg of sodium equals 3750 mg of salt, roughly ¾ of a teaspoon. Over 75% of our salt is already in the food, not added from the salt shaker.) In 2010, the American Heart Association lowered its recommendations to 1500 mg a day for everyone. We thought that was good advice, but new evidence has muddied the waters.

In the latest issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, three new studies about the role of salt in cardiovascular disease were published. Instead of providing clear answers, they raise more questions. In a cute NEJM QuickTake cartoon video they summarize the findings of the studies. If you’d rather spend three minutes watching cartoons than reading my explanation, feel free.

Background

High blood pressure is a known risk factor for heart attacks and strokes. Numerous studies have shown a correlation between salt intake and blood pressure, but the correlation between salt intake and cardiovascular outcomes like stroke and death has not been so clearly established. The large INTERSALT study found a modest association between higher levels of sodium intake and higher blood pressure. Some systematic reviews of the literature have confirmed that association, others have not. A 2013 review in the British Medical Journal found that lower sodium intake was correlated not only with a lower risk of hypertension but also with a lower risk of stroke and fatal coronary heart disease. Prospective cohort studies have shown inconsistent associations between sodium intake and cardiac risk. Larger studies were needed to settle the issue.

First study: Association of Urinary Sodium and Potassium Excretion with Blood Pressure, by Mente et al.
Subjects: 102,216 adults from 18 countries. Method: single fasting urine levels of sodium and potassium were used to estimate 24-hour excretion, providing an indirect estimate of dietary intake. Findings: the association of sodium with BP was greatest in hypertensives, the elderly, and those who had the highest intakes of salt. It was greatest in those ingesting over 6 grams of sodium a day, modest in those ingesting 3-5 grams, and not significant in those ingesting less than 3 grams a day. They found an inverse relationship for potassium: higher levels of potassium were associated with lower blood pressures.

Second study: Urinary Sodium and Potassium Excretion, Mortality, and Cardiovascular Events, by O-Donnell et al.
Subjects: 101,945 adults from 17 countries. Method: as in the first study, single fasting urine tests were used to estimate 24-hour urinary sodium and potassium excretion; those estimates were compared to a composite outcome of death and major cardiovascular events. Findings: mean sodium excretion was 4.93 g. Compared to a reference range of 4.00-5.99 g a day, the odds ratio for death and cardiovascular events was 1.15 for high sodium excretion (over 7 g a day) but was even greater at 1.27 for a low sodium excretion (below 3 g). Higher potassium excretion was associated with decreased risk.

Third study: Global Sodium Consumption and Death from Cardiovascular Causes, by Mozaffarian et al.
The authors reviewed 205 studies on sodium consumption from 66 countries. Estimated mean global consumption was 3.95 grams a day, with regional means varying from 2.18 to 5.51. Daily sodium intake >6 grams a day was associated with increased risk of mortality and cardiovascular events. Surprisingly, so was intake of <3 grams. The lowest risk was in the 3-6 gram range. They used a computer model to estimate that 1.65 million deaths a year could be attributed to a sodium intake of greater than 2 grams a day. That’s about 10% of all cardiovascular deaths. The rate ranged from 4 deaths per million adults per year in Kenya to 1,967 per million in Georgia.

Discussion

We knew too much sodium was risky, but these studies raise concerns that too little sodium might be even worse. As the accompanying editorial points out,

They call into question the feasibility and usefulness of reducing dietary sodium as a population-based strategy for reducing blood pressure…the alternative approach of recommending high-quality diets rich in potassium might achieve greater health benefits, including blood-pressure reduction, than aggressive sodium reduction.

It may not be the potassium itself; diets rich in potassium are also rich in a lot of other healthy nutrients from fruits and vegetables.

These studies were large and well designed. They gathered an immense amount of data, looked at a variety of associations, and did their best to rule out possible confounding factors. But epidemiologic studies like these are imperfect by nature. The authors themselves pointed out several limitations of their studies, including the indirect way they measured sodium and potassium excretion.

What did we learn?

None of this really sheds any light on what we should do as individuals. Should we continue asking “pass the salt?” Should we abstain from adding salt at the table? Should we read labels and monitor the total amount of salt in our diet? Should we aim for 3-5 g a day?

These studies found associations, but they couldn’t determine causes, and they did not even attempt to measure what would happen if people changed the amount of sodium and potassium in their diets. If anything, they suggest that existing guidelines for salt restriction for the general population may be too extreme. They also suggest that “moderation in all things” and “eat your vegetables” are still good advice.

Bonus question: What kind of salt should we use?

A related question is whether some kinds of salt are healthier than others. Sea salt, table salt, kosher salt, flavored salt, fleur de sel, Hiwa Kai, Black Hawaiian Sea Salt, Kala Namak, “organic salt,” and Pink Himalayan Sea Salt are all basically the same chemical, sodium chloride. Only the trace amounts of other substances vary. Table salt is fortified with iodine and is a highly effective way to prevent iodine deficiency and goiter. Gourmet cooks swear by the taste differences of different salt varieties. Pink Himalayan sea salt was introduced to me by an e-mail correspondent who questioned the claim that it contained “84 trace minerals that promote health and well being.” I questioned it too, so I did a little research.

Mike Adams, the infamous Health Ranger, explains that Himalayan Pink Crystal Salt contains the full complement of minerals and trace elements “just like Mother Earth intended.” It is an unrefined, unprocessed raw salt mined by hand from salt caves that formed 250 million years ago as ocean salt settled into geologic pockets. It is stone-ground, which apparently doesn’t count as “processing.” Table salt is bad stuff, you see, since it was processed to remove all the good stuff and then they had to replace the iodine because people who ate it started to get goiters. Oh, and incidentally he sells the good stuff on his website and even offers a discount.

I found a website that reports the results of a spectral analysis. I think this is where the claim comes from. Even if this analysis is accurate, it is meaningless for health and if anything is worrisome. The amount of minerals in it is too minuscule to make any difference, and we already get plenty of the same trace minerals from other elements of the diet. They claim that two double-blind studies were done, but no such studies are listed in PubMed. There is NO evidence published in peer-reviewed journals that replacing white salt with pink salt makes a shred of difference or leads to any improvement in health.

If you read down the list of minerals, you will notice that it includes a number of radioactive substances like radium, uranium, and polonium. It also includes substances that act as poisons, like thallium. I wouldn’t be worried, since the amounts are so small; but if anyone believes the trace amounts of “good” minerals in Himalayan sea salt are good for you, why would they not believe the trace amounts of poisons and radioactive substances are bad for you?

The claim that pink Himalayan salt contains 84 trace minerals may be true, but the claim that it “promotes health and wellness” is false until proven otherwise by legitimate clinical studies. While waiting for evidence, I’d just as soon my salt didn’t contain uranium.

Posted in: Nutrition, Public Health

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207 thoughts on “Pass the Salt (But Not That Pink Himalayan Stuff)

  1. Cervantes says:

    Of course your well water may contain uranium. One problem we have nowadays is that assays are so sensitive that you can find a tiny trace of just about anything you choose to look for in your food and water. Like the great man said, the dose makes the poison, and the remedy.

    1. El Jefe says:

      Not to mention that Potassium 40, is more radioactive than Uranium 238 (the most abundant isotope of uranium in the earths crust). Should I stop eating bananas? Or stop drinking water because of naturally occurring tritium? We are surrounded by radiation on a daily basis and most don’t even think about it. Obviously there is an acceptable threshold of radiation our bodies are able to absorb without consequence.

  2. Kosher salt is better than table salt for cooking because the larger crystals are easier to pinch and sprinkle; the fine table salt crystals tend to run out of one’s fingers. I like pink Himalayan salt in large slabs; it holds heat beautifully and makes for a fun tabletop presentation. :D

    1. Windriven says:

      I have a few slabs of 2″ thick Pink Himalayan salt but I use them to serve octopus sashimi. Wrap the slabs in plastic or put them in 2 gallon freezer ziplocks because they will suck up ever molecule of stink in your refrigerator. Then refrigerate overnight. Take them out just before service, slice the octopus and arrange artistically on the slabs, drizzle a bit of fresh lemon juice, and serve. The octopus picks up just enough salt to perfect the flavor. No need for soy or wasabi (which IMHO doesn’t play well with octopus).

    2. whoa says:

      Table salt with additives tastes disgusting. Kosher salt tastes good, because it has no additives.

      1. Missmolly says:

        Kosher salt tastes good coz it’s in (comparatively) huge crystals that melt more slowly on the tongue, delivering a slower and thus more mellow high, oops, saltiness. Table salt crystals are small so it melts rapidly and molests your taste buds all at once, creating a sense of harsh acridness.
        I recommend making a pan fried dark chocolate and peanut butter sandwich sprinkled with Maldon salt flakes. An N=1 study reports that it ‘s crunchy and delicious and will improve QOL in a number of domains. However, more studies are needed to achieve statistical significance.

        1. whoa says:

          There are additives in table salt to prevent it from clumping. Those additives taste terrible. Kosher salt is just plain salt.

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Again, you think you know it tastes terrible when you know it is salt with additives. Put some kosher salt and regular salt in a coffee grinder and render it unto dust, then taste it in a blind test. I wonder if you could tell the difference then?

            Also, I put my salt in stuff. Are you telling me you just eat it straight-up? Weird.

          2. Missmolly says:

            Gosh you’re joyless, whoa!
            The presence of anti-caking agent depends on the brand of salt, not its koshering qualities. So of the two big kosher brands, Morton contains anti-caking agent, and Diamond doesn’t.
            They are both great big crystals as I mentioned above: that makes them less dense than table salt, so Diamond weighs about 5oz/cup, Morton 8oz and table 10oz. And that difference in coarseness does affect how they taste on the tongue.
            But I’m glad you’re so certain of yourself, and feel confident that this comment won’t change your opinion or even make you check your facts. Nope: Chemicals YUCK! Pureness MADE OF UNICORNS!

        2. Kathy says:

          I would be interested in adding one to this trial. Please post website of a good recipe. (Must say I’ve never in my life heard of such a combo – peanut butter with dark choc sarmie? Must try it)

          1. Missmolly says:

            Seriously, no recipe, it’s that simple: put peanut butter and chopped good dark chocolate sprinkled with flaky salt in a sandwich; butter the outside; fry it in a pan or put it in a jaffle maker; stuff it in your face; go run a 10k to avoid increasing your pants size.
            This is why I can’t have peanut butter in my house.

            1. Edward says:

              You’re an evil person! I can see another addiction looming!

        3. rgdedge says:

          If you’re recruiting for the study, I’d like to volunteer.

      2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Table salt with additives tastes disgusting. Kosher salt tastes good, because it has no additives.

        I’ve never noticed that table salt tastes gross. Probably in part because I’m a weak taster overall, but probably also because I don’t eat salt straight-up, I put it on and in stuff. I’m assuming you eat it with a spoon?

  3. Bruce says:

    Apparently the Roman soldier getting paid in salt thing is a myth:

    http://www.cooksinfo.com/roman-salt

    Something I only found out recently.

    Unfortunately blocks at work mean I can’t find any other sources.

  4. KayMarie says:

    I have some of the pink salt at home but because I do think some of the contaminants in the salt give different flavors so I occasionally buy some of the colored salts when I’m feeling fancy/foodie. Most aren’t as obvious as Kala Namak, but still there seems to be a bit of a difference in flavor.

  5. CS says:

    I wonder if the people with low urine sodium levels included those who have problems excreting sodium (rather than reduced sodium intake), which could account for their worse health outcome. Did the study control for that?

    1. Harriet Hall says:

      @CS,
      “I wonder if the people with low urine sodium levels included those who have problems excreting sodium (rather than reduced sodium intake)”

      I can’t follow the logic there. If someone has difficulty excreting sodium, either the total body burden of sodium would continue to rise and would reach astronomical levels and the person would die, or as the total sodium rose, the kidneys would compensate by excreting more, and to maintain equilibrium the urinary sodium would not be less than that of people who don’t have difficulty excreting sodium.

  6. Michael says:

    I imagine it has more to do with expectation than chemical composition but I do tend to think table salt tastes slightly acrid compared to sea salt. Lousy brain of mine, always mucking things up.

    1. Jane Cobb says:

      We did a taste test of a range of different salts, we got a friend to make solutions and put them in brown glass bottles to disguise any colour. She labelled them with letters and kept the records so we genuinely didn’t know which was which. Without the psychological cues we could both distinguish sea salt from rock salt but beyond that any differences were so small that there was no culinary point in using the fashionable and very expensive salts.

      1. Robert S. says:

        The physical characteristics can make a large difference in taste, try crystallizing one solution with different final crystal sizes, and see if that is noticeable.

  7. Pat Bowne says:

    I find the data about urinary Na+ and K+ levels vs. blood pressure very interesting, as aldosterone would lower urinary Na+, raise urinary K+, and raise blood pressure — yet the opposite relationship is observed. This suggests that not only is a non-aldosterone mechanism involved in the hypertension, but it is so powerful as to completely swamp or suppress any effects of aldosterone. And it leaves me wondering why the urinary values are regarded as reliable, since they might be reflecting aldosterone suppression caused by hypertension rather than actual dietary intake of Na+ and K+.

    C’mon, folks, sort this all out for me. I have to teach about aldosterone next Wednesday: that should give you plenty of time to clear up my confusion!

  8. qetzal says:

    [I]f anyone believes the trace amounts of “good” minerals in Himalayan sea salt are good for you, why would they not believe the trace amounts of poisons and radioactive substances are bad for you?

    Because the bad ones have been rendered naturally homeopathically beneficial, just like Mother Earth intended!

    ;-)

  9. Angora Rabbit says:

    OMG, Pat, I can’t explain aldosterone; Na/K balance makes my brain hurt every year I have to teach it. Sigh. I too wondered if the low sodium risk was actually a marker for low potassium. It definitely doesn’t follow that low sodium means high potassium intake; if anything, aldosterone would drive sodium reuptake, and potassium would be exchanged, thus increasing potassium losses, which is not a good thing. So maybe the folks who had very low sodium were also losing more potassium than those with the intermediate intake. And then there’s chloride to consider also; people think of chloride as being passive, but there’s data to suggest it’s a participant in the electrolyte regulation as well.

    I’m actually not a fan of the latest AHA sodium recommendations. The sodium requirement is so badly understood; we just can’t get good numbers on it or on potassium. I think the AHA value was a bit of a dart throw based in extrapolation from epidemiology studies. So maybe I’m glad about these three studies and I look forward to reading them.

    For the lay folks reading this, do pay attention to sodium intake, but also potassium intake. Potassium is richest in unprocessed foods – veggies, fruit, meats. Basically your “wet” foods. Increasing intake of those will reduce processed sources that are higher in sodium. Eating potassium in the whole food is always preferred to potassium pills (which have the additional disadvantage of making one throw up).

    Oh, and increase your calcium intake as well. Calcium is also an important modulator of blood pressure, as shown in the DASH diet. So drink your milk. :-) Cheese is actually not such a good calcium source because cheese is often rich in sodium, which is part of the cheesemaking process.

    1. Alia says:

      Fortunately, it is tomato season here, so I’m going to supplement my diet with potassium by eating a lot of them.

    2. TwistBarbie says:

      Augh! Potassium RDAs! I don’t think it’s possible for me to ever meet the adequate intake (according to Health Canada) of 4700mg/day. I would have to eat about 5 cups of white beans or more than 10 bananas! When using my calorie counting app I usually don’t even make 1000mg despite my best efforts.

      1. brewandferment says:

        I second Twistie’s arrggh! I’ve asked that same question here and still not gotten a good handle on the matter. Even if it were only half of the 4700 it would still be quite hard to do. I look at it mathematically: I could write a formula like 4700 = 900x + 450y + etc, etc, where x = number of large sweet potatos eaten daily and y = number of bananas eaten daily and so on; the coefficients are the potassium values of each food variable, but as the coefficient decreases, the variable number has to increase. And it never works out unless the amount (and cost usually) in both terms of calories and/or volume gets unrealistic in the extreme. I think I figured out once that it’d cost about $10 a day in spinach alone to come close!

    3. Pat Bowne says:

      I hadn’t even considered the effect that Na+ and K+ intake would have on aldosterone! Now I’m even more confused about why anybody thought urinary values were a good index of dietary intake. So I did a quick search.

      I find a 1980 article in which estimated Na+ intake ranged from 51% below to 61% above measured Na+ excretion (n=9 subjects) (http://hyper.ahajournals.org/content/2/5/695.full.pdf).

      A 1982 study (http://hyper.ahajournals.org/content/4/6/805.full.pdf) which actually measured and controlled Na+ intake found better agreement, in people taking 150 mEq (3.45 g)/day of Na+, but they took the means of 10 24-hour urine collections. They state that “…a single 24-hour measurement of urinary sodium excretion was of no value in assessing mean sodium intake accurately; instead, nine 24-hour collections were necessary.”

      A 1984 study (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6336025, of which I only read the abstract) states that “Previous studies suggested that seven to fourteen 24-hour urine collections are necessary to minimize the attenuation due to the large day-to-day variation in an individual’s Na intake.” However, I found a 1995 article (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7759851: again, abstract only) which stated that “The dietary intake correlated highly with urinary excretion of electrolytes.” And of course, I did not find out how they were measuring urinary Na+ in either of these articles, so methods may have improved.

      In 2001 a statistical comparison of recall intake data and measured electrolyte excretion was published (http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/153/10/996.long), and while I don’t have time to thoroughly read it right now it seems to indicate that we should take all conclusions based on either method with a grain of salt (sorry, couldn’t resist…)

      Anyway, I have to head in to work now so I look forward to somebody else’s take on this. Hopefully somebody who is better able to interpret the statistics in the recent article than I am!

    4. Angora Rabbit says:

      I don’t obsess about the potassium DRIs. I try to eat a lot of whole foods and let it come along for the ride. For those on diuretics, that’s a more difficult challenge and maybe a supplement is in order if food sources are problematic.

      Remember a requirement fits 95% of that population, meaning 95% have a requirement BELOW the requirement. We pick a number to capture the vast majority.

      Perhaps that will help you rest easier?

      1. TwistBarbie says:

        It really does, thanks Angora Rabbit! Your comments are always so helpful and they inspire me to eat healthier.

    5. jan says:

      If I tend to have lowish blood pressure and low pulse pressure (florinef is helping), low K+, and sometimes high Cl-, but I cannot eat most veggies due to GI problems, what can I eat?

      (I eat poultry, some beef, a little fish, cooked carrots, cooked green onion & herbs, white rice, brown rice pasta, quionoa, white and occasionally white whole wheat bread, soft and canned fruit, some eggs, coconut oil, tree nut butters, and sometimes cooked cauliflower. I can’t have legumes, nightshades, citrus, histamine containing or releasing foods, excititoxins, or hardly any of either kind of fiber.) I can have some dairy, but I limit it due to nausea if too much.

      I do not know what to do. Multivitamins upset my GI system, too. My docs say, if it’s making you miserable, don’t eat it. Otherwise they can’t offer me anything useful.

  10. stanmrak says:

    This is just more evidence that ‘science’ just doesn’t understand nutrition. It’s told us for decades that salt causes hypertension, now they say, well, there never was conclusive evidence, so maybe not. The same goes for saturated fat causing heart disease – another myth promoted by science for decades, without any conclusive proof. Yet most everybody still believes it. Someone please tell the folks in Switzerland and France that they should all be dying of heart disease from consuming so much saturated fat, because they’re not cooperating with the science.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/its-time-to-end-the-war-on-salt/

    1. KayMarie says:

      I don ‘t think that too little salt is bad for you in some way completely and totally invalidates that way too much salt isn’t healthy, either.

      Nutrition is complex and there are a lot of factors where too much is as bad as too little and often what is more important is what you may not be eating when you eat a lot of something else.

      How much of the people in epidemiological studies that ate excessive amounts of fatty meat was that they didn’t eat much in the way of veggies, etc.

      Fortunately we only have free-range humans to study (as a life time locked in a lab on the same three day repeating diet would be highly unethical not to mention torture…flashbacks to getting 6 weeks of a 3 day repeating diet past the IRB…). But with that comes the difficulties of teasing out all the various parts.

      At least science has some way of working through all the various variables and correcting (usually in a much smaller measure than the press would lead you to believe) the misunderstandings as it goes along.

      I don’t see much in the way of the fad nutrition experts having a systematic way of changing their mind other than it is time for a new marketing strategy because people stopped buying the last one.

      1. jan says:

        Too little salt is bad for me. “Where goes salt, there goes water.” (my A&P teacher) I have low blood volume, and eating more salt is one of the ways I compensate for that. It was probably not caused by this, however.

        1. jan says:

          Sorry, misunderstood your post. :)

    2. EBMOD says:

      Yes, because we should all clearly just make up our nutrition facts based on naturalistic fallacy and oversimplified guesses.

      I know I have brought this up with you multiple times, but I bring it up again since you have ignored it every time and because it ties in well with this post: how DO you find truth? Specifically, I am still curious about your claims about astaxanthin and glaucoma. If not using scientific means, how was the claim arrived at? What was your evidence? How did you evaluate glaucoma in these patients?

      As an eye doc, I continue to be appalled at your dangerous suggestions from your website that astaxanthin can treat glaucoma and am hoping that you will, for once, respond to the question.

      1. stanmrak says:

        Nowhere did I ever claim that you can use astaxanthin to treat glaucoma. The direct quote is:

        Supplementing with astaxanthin has been found to have protective benefits against a wide range of vision-related problems, including:
        • cataracts
        • macular degeneration
        • diabetic retinopathy
        • glaucoma and many others

        …and this is a true statement, although I’m sure you would not approve of my sources.

        1. stanmrak says:

          Since you are an eye doc, you should do some research on astaxanthin:

          Iwasaki Tsuneto, Tahara Akihiko. Effects of Astaxanthin on Eyestrain Induced by Accommodative Dysfunction. Journal of the Eye VOL.23;NO.6;829-834(2006)

          Nagaki Y., Hayasaka S., Yamada T., Hayasaka Y., Sanada M., Uonomi T. Effects of Astaxanthin on accommodation, critical flicker fusion, and pattern visual evoked potential in visual display terminal workers. Journal of Traditional Medicines 2002: 19 (5), 170 – 173.

          Nagaki Yasunori et al. The Effect of Astaxanthin on Retinal Capillary Blood Flow in Normal Volunteers. Journal of Clinical Therapeutics & Medicines Vol.21;No.5;537-542(2005)

          Sun Z, Liu J, Zeng X, Huangfu J, Jiang Y, Wang M, Chen F. Protective actions of microalgae against endogenous and exogenous advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) in human retinal pigment epithelial cells. Food Funct. 2011 May;2(5):251-8. doi: 10.1039/c1fo10021a. Epub 2011 Apr 21. PubMed PMID: 21779563.

          Ishida S. Lifestyle-related diseases and anti-aging ophthalmology: suppression of retinal and choroidal pathologies by inhibiting renin-angiotensin system and inflammation. Article in Japanese: Nihon Ganka Gakkai Zasshi. 2009 Mar;113(3):403-22; discussion 423. Review. Japanese. PubMed PMID: 19348185.

          1. stanmrak says:

            …and what’s dangerous about taking astaxanthin? Show me some research.

            1. KayMarie says:

              Even if something is the most non-toxic thing in the world (which often means no effects on biological systems)…

              If you promote it as a preventative or treatment for illnesses people may chose to take it and avoid the doctor and thus not get a treatment that could actually protect what eyesight they have left.

              1. stanmrak says:

                Again, I never recommended treating a disease nutritionally as opposed to seeking medical advice. Maybe as an adjunct. As far as preventive measures go, science-based medicine has NO answers, because they insist on ‘proof’ first, and you can’t prove prevention.

              2. MadisonMD says:

                You can’t prove prevention.

                Duh
                Duh 2
                Duh 3
                Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh
                Duhduhduhduhduhduhduhduh!
                .
                etc.
                .
                etc.
                .
                Shall I continue?

              3. EBMOD says:

                I see that MadisonMD beat me to the punch, but that is simply a wrong assumption on your part. One can absolutely assess relative and absolute risks of diseases. You are confused on so many levels.

              4. Windriven says:

                “Again, I never recommended treating a disease nutritionally as opposed to seeking medical advice.”

                Quack Miranda in practice.

            2. EBMOD says:

              Its parent molecule, beta carotene, has long been known to INCREASE risk of cancer in smokers

              http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18289382
              http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/999.html

              The original study for high dose beta carotene was actually cut short due to the marked increase in cancer in those patients. Considering the similarity, without study there may be risks that are not obvious at this point.

              You are perfectly embodying why many of us here are frustrated with CAM. It relies on oversimplification, exaggeration, and utter misunderstanding of reality.

            3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              …and what’s dangerous about taking astaxanthin? Show me some research.

              Even if there’s nothing dangerous, it could still be a complete waste of money and could simply not work. Or it could be found cheaper in non-pill form.

              I’ll never understand why you supplement nuts are so averse to getting your nutrients from food. Seriously, carrots are delicious, even raw!

              1. Calli Arcale says:

                *Especially* raw! As a kid, that’s the only way I’d eat them. Cooked was just gross, except for this awesome sauteed shredded carrot & parsnip thing my mom made for special occasions. Now that I’m adult, I like them cooked or uncooked; they’re awesome regardless. ;-)

          2. AdamG says:

            citation 1: not indexed on pubmed so you obviously didn’t read it. Even if the abstract floating around the dubious sites you got this list from is accurate, the study only included 10 subjects, and no statistics are reported.

            citation 2: most outcomes examined remained unchanged. accommodation amplitude increased slightly but the clinical significance of this change (if it exists) is not discussed

            citation 3: also not indexed in pubmed. an abstract exists claiming significant results for certain outcomes but the full article is nowhere to be found.

            citation 4 : an in vitro study of the compound’s effects on cell culture. Presents no evidence for its efficacy in patients.

            citation 5: A review of the in vitro data described in citation 4. Full article not available to me digitally (and probably not stanmrak either).

            You know stan, “do some research” doesn’t just mean “read the titles”

            1. stanmrak says:

              I have better things to do than read boring scientific papers on nutrition that really don’t prove anything. Whatever your viewpoint is on a topic, you can pull up dozens of studies to verify it – or refute it, whichever you want. Nutritional studies don’t ever prove anything.

              1. KayMarie says:

                You don’t even read the literature on the stuff you sell well enough to know if you should post it as evidence or not?

              2. Jopari says:

                “I have better things to do instead of read boring scientific papers on nutrition that don’t prove anything.”

                Exactly why the heck you shouldn’t simply read titles and drop things on other peoples laps, because often, it’s $@¡+.

                ” Whatever your viewpoint is on a topic, you can pull up dozens of studies to verify it – or refute it, whichever you want. Nutritional studies don’t ever prove anything.”

                Sure, every single topic has studies supporting it. That’s why it’s important to read it and see which ones are viable and which ones are blowing smoke.

                If studies didn’t prove anything, no one would do them or use them. Using a sloppy generalization to avoid actual work doesn’t work here.

              3. AdamG says:

                Ahhh now I see how this works. When someone questions your claims, they need to “do some research.” But when they actually do this research, and reach a conclusion that differs from your pre-formed conclusion, the studies don’t really prove anything!

                Whatever your viewpoint is on a topic, you can pull up dozens of studies to verify it – or refute it, whichever you want.

                So then why did you bother posting those citations at all?

                this is a true statement, although I’m sure you would not approve of my sources

                So you’re basically admitting that, in fact, this was not a true statement, because “Nutritional studies don’t ever prove anything.” You’re contradicting yourself, stan. You’ve bent yourself so far backwards just to disagree with folks here that you’ve lost sight of basic logic.

              4. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                I have better things to do than read boring scientific papers

                That’s for sure :)

                Whatever your viewpoint is on a topic, you can pull up dozens of studies to verify it – or refute it, whichever you want. Nutritional studies don’t ever prove anything.

                Then why did you cite them?

        2. KayMarie says:

          Oh, so it is only for completely healthy people who might some day have a problem, not for treating anything once you have one? Is that what that means?

          1. stanmrak says:

            No one is completely healthy. And yes, I don’t recommend methods for treating illnesses. I’m not a doctor, and the FDA frowns on such things.

            1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              …except for things like “Supplementing with astaxanthin has been found to have protective benefits”. I mean, technically you are correct, there’s no advice there. You phrased it in the passive voice of course, so that it’s not coming from you, it “has been found”.

              Of course, you are the one who wrote that sentence, and you are the one who claims that there is evidence, that you didn’t link to. Leading us to have to trust your opinions despite being fearfully ignorant of nutrition, the area you claim expertise in.

              But no – in a strictly legalistic, almost dishonest fashion, you can say that you didn’t “recommend methods for treating illness.” You noted that someone else, whom you didn’t identify, has found evidence that illness can be prevented, referring to sources that you didn’t provide.

              Good job champ!

        3. EBMOD says:

          I am referencing your article here:

          http://ezinearticles.com/?Glaucoma-Prevention-is-Possible—With-Antioxidant-Nutrition&id=2626262

          Within is the following quote:

          “What are the Best Carotenoid Supplements for Glaucoma Prevention?

          Mixed-Carotene Supplements Look for natural, mixed carotenes combined into one capsule. The carotene content of these supplements is usually listed in international units (IU). Look for products made from an algae called Dunaliella salina, in amounts of from 10,000IU to 25,000IU of beta carotene. These mixed carotene supplements will typically include the carotenoids alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthin. You’ll need at least that much to get the full antioxidant benefits from the carotenoids.”

          You explicitly state that glaucoma can be prevented with your product. Which brings up (what should be) an ethical quandary, namely, how did you assess that claim? What was your evidence and methods?

          Glaucoma, until late stages where it has gone undetected and treated for years, has no subjective degradation on vision. Contrary to popular belief, high intraocular pressure is NOT what glaucoma is. That is ocular hypertension. Glaucoma is by definition damage to the optic nerve, which may, or may not be due to high intraocular pressure(IOP). High IOP is a risk factor, not pathognomonic as many assume. You can have high IOP and no damage, you can have normal pressure and have damage (normotensive glaucoma).

          So in order to support that claim, that means that you were dilating patients and observing their optic nerves over time to see if any glaucoma was developing, and what the rate of progression is. This means you would also have had to have performed IOP checks, 24-2 visual fields, and other standards used to assess glaucoma. My point is that a huge amount of research would be necessary to support that claim. I highly doubt you have, thus my disapproval of your deplorable ethics, $tan.

          This is aside from the fact that glaucoma is very different from ARMD. I have no problem with astaxanthin. I have a problem with misusing it. Macular degeneration is an oxidative stress disease and considering that astaxanthin’s cousin, zeaxanthin has been shown effective in slowing progression, it would not surprise me if astaxanthin was similarly useful.

          However, glaucoma is NOT a disease that has been linked to oxidative stress. Yet you continue to swing your ‘one size fits all’ cudgel of anti-oxidants for everything…

          Lastly, lets look at this quote:

          “When Should You Supplement Your Diet with Carotenoids?

          If you’re not keen on these foods, or you have some already-developed symptoms of degenerative eye disease, you might want to consider nutritional supplements specifically designed for eye nutrition.”

          So just what diseases are you referring to? What are the symptoms that warrant supplementation? Or do you leave it purposely vague to get people to worry and thus start taking your ‘one true supplement’?

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            It’s always fun when someone who actually is an expert in the area spanks stan with his own ignorance. Delightful!

        4. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Supplementing with astaxanthin has been found to have protective benefits

          Oh, yes, that’s totally different from recommending astaxanthin. Yes, good job there champ, way to split that hair right down the middle with an axe of plausible deniability.

          I’m sure you would not approve of my sources.

          Probably not, because your sources apparently lead to you totally wrong conclusions.

        5. Robert S. says:

          The statement is as legally defensible as me calling you a doodie-head ; The legal defensiblity of a statement does not go toward establishing truth claims.

    3. weing says:

      “This is just more evidence that ‘science’ just doesn’t understand nutrition.”
      No. This is evidence that people like you, looking for simplistic answers, just don’t understand science.

    4. Angora Rabbit says:

      No, $tan, science understands nutrition just fine, thank you very much. You don’t understand nutrition. And the media don’t understand nutrition, which is why the message gets distorted and you are able to leverage that distortion into your wallet.

      Once again, you are throwing in non sequitors in order to distort the message.

      And saturated fats are STILL a risk factor, but so is cholesterol, carnitine, omega-6 unsaturated fats and, really, just too many fat calories in general as compared to requirements. But apparently that is too complicated for your simplistic thinking.

      1. stanmrak says:

        The evidence seems to suggest that saturated fat is not a primary cause of heart disease, and there is lots of epidemiological evidence to support this thinking. Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the rate of alzheimers is soaring right on the heels of the low-fat craze.

        Americans have been saturated fat-phobic for the past 4 decades, at least. Full-fat milk and yogurt is virtually absent from the grocery shelves, and there’s fat-free products galore. Doesn’t seem to have made a dent in our rate of heart disease, but the myth persists.

        1. Windriven says:

          Whether a primary cause or a contributing cause, moderating trans fat intake is good science and good sense.

          1. whoa says:

            He did not mention trans fat. Trans fat is artificial and dangerous and should not be allowed in food. What he actually mentioned was saturated fat, which is natural and not a leading cause of obesity and artery disease.

            There should be less concern about natural fat and salt, and much more concern about processed food and refined carbohydrates. The focus has been wrong for too long, and the public is still being misinformed.

            1. Windriven says:

              No, he didn’t. I mentioned it to demonstrate the sensitivity of the Swiss to fat intake in general. I was unable to come up with reliable data on sat-fat intake for Swiss v Americans and used this as an indicator.

              Your thoughts about what should be more or less of concern are meaningless without data to support them. What you wrote above is no different than your entirely subjective claim that table salt tastes “disgusting.” I don’t use it myself but I have been served it in restaurants and the homes of others and did not find it disgusting. Clearly, yours is the superior palate.

            2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              He did not mention trans fat. Trans fat is artificial and dangerous and should not be allowed in food.

              “Not be allowed” is a bit nanny-state for me, won’t our perfect human brains just acknowledge that it’s bad for us and we’ll all avoid it?

              Also, you might have noticed recently a massive push to reduce the amount of trans fats in foods, as well as labelling requirements and practices.

              Snake venom is natural, not artificial. Is it dangerous?

              What he actually mentioned was saturated fat, which is natural and not a leading cause of obesity and artery disease.

              [citation needed] there champ. Your certainty seems at odds with the current assessment and discussion within the scientific literature, which suggests it is an extraordinarily complex question.

              Smallpox is natural, not artificial. Is it dangerous?

              There should be less concern about natural fat and salt

              What the hell is “natural salt” compared to “unnatural salt”?

              Amanita phalloides is natural, not artificial. Is it a dangerous species?

              , and much more concern about processed food and refined carbohydrates. The focus has been wrong for too long, and the public is still being misinformed.

              Um…can you point to a single public health statement that says “start your day with a healthy bowl of sugar, and wash it down with a slurry of refined white flower and coke”? I’m pretty sure the public is regularly informed of the dangers of processed foods. It’s amazing, given how perfect their brains are, that they still somehow prefer to eat cheetos and drink pop. It’s almost as if food companies were designing products to satiate the basic drivers of our undesigned brains!

              No, seriously – can you point to a single public health statement that says chips are better for you than apples? Any kind of chips, including kale.

            3. Petticoat Philosopher says:

              There is plenty of concern about processed food and refined carbohydrates. Every medical professional I know, either through being their patient, their friend, or their relative, counsels against eating these things except as treats in the context of a whole foods-based diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. But why engage with real doctors and nurses when you can just hack away at straw-doctors and straw-nurses, who apparently all think that everyone should be living on fat-free cookies and skim chocolate milk?

        2. whoa says:

          “Full-fat milk and yogurt is virtually absent from the grocery shelves, and there’s fat-free products galore. Doesn’t seem to have made a dent in our rate of heart disease, but the myth persists.”

          It is a very dangerous myth. The obesity and diabetes epidemic result from refined carbohydrates and physical inactivity, primarily — NOT from dietary fat.

          It is so frustrating to see the grocery store shelves filled with zero fat yogurt that is full of refined sugar.

          1. simba says:

            Aside from anything else, unsweetened full-fat yogurt is just nice. And it’s getting harder to buy.

            1. whoa says:

              “Aside from anything else, unsweetened full-fat yogurt is just nice. And it’s getting harder to buy.”

              It tastes better, it is not bad for health, but is now almost impossible to find.

              It’s easy to find zero fat yogurt with refined sugar. Exactly what we don’t need.

              The myth that eating fat makes you fat just won’t die.

              1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                It tastes better, it is not bad for health, but is now almost impossible to find.

                Since taste is inherently subjective, I don’t think you can really defend that statement. I eat full-fat goat yogurt every morning (plain, mixed with flax seed, molasses and some spices for flavour) and it’s pretty terrible – but good for me. I’d much rather eat ice cream or sweetened yogurt, it’d taste excellent, but it’s bad for me and despite wanting to eat it, I know I should listen to the public health authorities who recommend whole, unprocessed foods instead.

                Before you ask, I use goat yogurt because I like the tanginess, and I use molasses because at this point I’m simply used to it and it tastes funny without any.

                And I do sometimes have trouble finding my particular brand.

                The myth that eating fat makes you fat just won’t die.

                So what you’re saying is, in the days before refined carbohydrates, nobody was fat? interesting. Very interesting (bottom of the page, haven’t listened to the podcast). Fascinating really.

              1. simba says:

                Windriven- you’re a dangerous man.

                In a completely unrelated note, there are no drawbacks to eating a diet composed entirely of plain yogurt, chocolate, and instant noodles, right? Yes? I’m good to go then.

              2. Windriven says:

                “there are no drawbacks to eating a diet composed entirely of plain yogurt, chocolate, and instant noodles, right?”

                So long as it is washed down with an appropriate wine. What goes with cup-o-soup?

              3. simba says:

                Slow cookers- is there anything they can’t do?

                I like the idea of adding cream to the milk- I’ve heard of adding cream to yogurt, but not before it becomes yogurt.

                I presume it would have to be any wine that comes in a carton. That seems to fit with the whole vibe of the diet. I’m voting for knockoff Baileys though, simply for the ‘drinking cream’ aspect.

              4. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                I’m voting for knockoff Baileys though, simply for the ‘drinking cream’ aspect.

                You’ve got to get your calcium somewhere, right?

          2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            It is a very dangerous myth. The obesity and diabetes epidemic result from refined carbohydrates and physical inactivity, primarily — NOT from dietary fat.

            Yeah, research and recommendations suggest it is increased calorie intake in general that drives the obesity epidemic, and accompanying type II diabetes epidemic. The problem with refined carbohydrates is that people substitute them for the fats they stopped eating. What is needed is a reduction in calories, irrespective source. And an increase in exercise. That’s what the public health officials have been saying for years now.

            Mostly because the human brain is pretty good at finding ways to provide short-term satiety, but is really, really quite poor at managing long-term lifestyles. I’m not saying everyone is stupid and must listen to scientists because they can’t manage their own lives. Only that empirically, that seems to be the case.

            Almost as if we were just slapped together from spare parts to survive in an environment where food was a scarce, precious resource.

            It is so frustrating to see the grocery store shelves filled with zero fat yogurt that is full of refined sugar.

            Sounds like you shouldn’t buy it then. Are you saying we’d be better off banning it? Kind of like you need to protect consumers from themselves, because consumers brains are imperfect and can’t be trusted to make good decisions even in the presence of good advice?

            1. Petticoat Philosopher says:

              haha, I don’t understand why people are pretending that the Evil Food Police have successfully removed all full fat yogurt and dairy from the shelves. (I suppose for the same reason they are pretending that the same Evil Food Police are apparently trying to shove fat-free processed sweets down our throats.) I buy my full-fat yogurt from a local producer that sells at a lot of groceries in my area –I live in Boston and really delicious, local/regional dairy products are in good supply for a reasonable price in New England, which I know is not true everywhere. But even small, not especially high-end groceries sell full fat yogurt, including from the major organic companies like Stonyfield. Hell, Wal-mart sells that stuff! If you want it, just get it! What planet are these people on?

          3. KayMarie says:

            What I find interesting about the “only carbohydrates are bad (with some only those carbs are bad while mine are still good” is much of it sounds like the same basic ideas used to promote that “only saturated fat was bad”. (which even back in the day there were warnings about trans fats and replacing fat with sugar and ensuring the lower fat foods you ate were actual foods rather than replacing Thing One with Thing Two as neither is going to behave better in the house)

            That whole reductionist find the one and only thing that is necessary and sufficient to explain 100% of the effects seen and then kill it with fire.

            I’m predicting in that something like 10 years from now there will be some “well that wasn’t exactly the whole story” type of attempt at a nuanced approach that will be lead to a slew of the SUGAR BAD people were WRONG!11!! headlines and everyone will be looking for the next big bad they can use the reductionist logic they say was the root of the problem the last time.

            I suspect there is both a combination of effects of a wide range of dietary componants going on as well as a variety of genetic backgrounds so there will never be the one big bad in all the world that if we just kept it away from people we would all be fantabulously slim and healthy, etc.

            1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              Hopefully the current apparent focus on overall calories (a switch from specific macronutrients) will address this somewhat. I suspect that if you actually looked at the health authorities were saying, it was more “eat less fats to reduce calories” not “eat less fats”. But I could be wrong.

              It’s almost as if humans just tended to eat an excessive amount of calories in general, irrespective the source!

              1. KayMarie says:

                I had some cholesterol issues at the start of the low-fat food craze and certainly in the information even then from the diet folks (and scientific lit) was way more nuanced than what the marketing and magazines would have you believe. Even in the 1980s there were steering me away from foods with sugars added to replace fat and trans fats.

                Certain meds just shoot my cholesterol through the roof and at the time we didn’t have a baseline to compare. Amazing how fast it dropped once I stopped that medication.

          4. Petticoat Philosopher says:

            Then don’y buy it. Buy the full fat yogurt that’s right next to it. Really, I promise, it’s there!

        3. Missmolly says:

          ‘the rate of alzheimers is soaring right on the heels of the low-fat craze’.
          Citation needed. One that corrects for our increased lifespan.
          The only way you could be more FoxNews is to finish with ‘…or do they???’ *meaningful eyebrows*

        4. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          The evidence seems to suggest that saturated fat is not a primary cause of heart disease, and there is lots of epidemiological evidence to support this thinking. Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the rate of alzheimers is soaring right on the heels of the low-fat craze.

          1) How do you distinguish between sat fats causing heart disease versus high LDL (caused by consuming sat fats) causing heart disease?

          2) Is there epidemiological evidence that is shows that saturated fats are a risk factor?

          3) Is there experimental evidence that shows saturated fats are a risk factor?

          4) The low-fat craze was accompanied by the largest birth cohort in American history reaching the peak years for developing Alzheimer’s disease, as well as a significant increase in the consumption of sugars as a compensation for decreased fats; which of the three is causing the spike in AD? How do you know?

          Americans have been saturated fat-phobic for the past 4 decades, at least. Full-fat milk and yogurt is virtually absent from the grocery shelves, and there’s fat-free products galore. Doesn’t seem to have made a dent in our rate of heart disease, but the myth persists.

          I can buy full-fat yogurt in a variety of brands and flavours, thanks. There is never one so blind as one who will not see, or something similar.

          Also, your observation about the rates of heart disease is true; what do you think of the observation that many of the low-fat dieters replaced the fat with calories from processed sugars, driving obesity rates, in turn driving heart disease? Do you think that might have an impact? What do you think of the recommendations to reduce calories overall rather than substituting simple sugars for fats?

          1. n brownlee says:

            “I can buy full-fat yogurt in a variety of brands and flavours, thanks.”

            Me, too. In butt-ignorant, redneck West Texas. In ALL the supermarkets, and, for thrice the price, in Whole Foods an Central market. Where’s she shopping, anyway?

            1. simba says:

              I can get lots of flavours of full fat yogurt, but the not-organic, unflavored full-fat yogurt only comes in about 4 types (of about fifty or more), and always seems to run out in my local shop by the time I get to it. Murphy’s law.

              If I wanted full-fat goat yogurt, lemon-flavoured goat yogurt, raspberry yogurt, plain low-fat etc I could get it ’til it came out my ears. I should just learn to be less of a curmudgeon and broaden my tastes, but I got addicted to it while doing the ‘cheap student eating’ thing and living off 55c yogurt for breakfast every morning.

              1. n brownlee says:

                When my kids were small, I made a LOT of yogurt. The low-fat craze hadn’t hit yet, so I sometimes added cream to the full-fat milk I bought from my friends at a neighboring dairy- pasteurized, but not homogenized. Pure luxe.

              2. simba says:

                N Brownlee- that seems like it would be a great antidote to the (thankfully rare) ‘But you’re SKINNY you shouldn’t be eating that’ person.

                “Of course you would never eat anything like that Simba because you’re skinny*. Here, have some lettuce. Thank god we’re not like those fat people who eat things with cream in them.” *pats on head*

                And for the type of person who goes “Oh god, you’re anorexic- is that an apple?That’s all you’re eating today, isn’t it? You really have a problem!”

                “Oh, is that low-fat yogurt?” “No, it’s EXTRA fat yogurt.”

                *I am not ‘skinny’. I’m short and of a slight build. Like the opposite of the ‘big boned’ problem.

              3. simba says:

                I wonder what the optimum cream-milk ratio is?

                Clearly this calls for more than anecdotal evidence. In the interests of science I must go conduct a few home controlled trials…

              4. n brownlee says:

                @Simba
                Back then I used an old heating pad on low, well padded with toweling to keep the heat even lower, and left the milk covered overnight.We liked an extra couple of ounces per 8oz cup of milk. The kids ate it on oatmeal with brown sugar, on fruit with honey, and we froze it in the ice cream freezer, in the summer. Or make a big batch and hang it suspended over a bowl in a 4-ply thickness of cheesecloth overnight in the fridge. Crème fraiche, with oomph. Or culture half milk and half cream, add garlic and dill, and eat that on your skinny little crudités!

                Or whip a little with Triple Sec and dunk strawberries in it. Pour it over apple galette. Let me know how you like it!

          2. brewandferment says:

            I’m jealous–you have all those lovely Liberte flavors (at least in Quebec, when we toured a year ago) that can’t be gotten here even in little cups, let alone large economy sizes!

        5. James Peters says:

          You forgot to mention the dairy cows should only be ”grass fed” as this will give it the ”x factor”!

        6. Calli Arcale says:

          Really? Whole milk and whole milk yogurt are “virtually absent”? Gosh. Maybe it’s just because of the vibrant dairy industry around here, but you can find those at all the major supermarkets around here, and the big boxes like Target and Walmart that have put in grocery sections. Even the gas stations usually have it.

        7. Petticoat Philosopher says:

          What on earth are you talking about? The crappy, small Stop ‘n’ Shop down the street from my apartment has full fat milk and yogurt in addition to the fat-free stuff. For that matter, gas station quick shops have full fat milk, right next to the 2% and skim. Where the hell are you buying your groceries?

          One thing that fascinates and bewilders me about the particular subcategory of food woomeisters that is obsessed with spreading the Gospel of Saturated Fat and Animal Products is that they really do appear to live in this parallel universe of their own making, where Fascist Food Police have cleansed all supermarkets of everything but margarine and bright blue skim yogurt in a tube and where and fat-free processed foods are touted by doctors as the key to health.

          Except I know literally no medical professionals (and I am related to a few of them) who think highly processed “diet” foods are the basis of a healthy diet. Literally none. I buy full-fat dairy products myself because they are just so delicious and I eat them in moderation along with a lot fruits, vegetables and whole grains and very little refined sugar and snack food. (My vices are fat and salt, not so much sugar, although I am pleased to learn that my salt-tooth is possibly not as much of a vice after all.) I am a healthy weight, my blood work is always good and my doctor is quite pleased with my habits. (And yes, I have specifically asked her about my preference for full fat dairy.) I don’t particularly feel like the medical establishment is trying to oppress me for the cream on the top of my quart of yogurt. But then, I also don’t fancy myself some kind of brave, iconoclastic freedom fighter in an imaginary battle for life, liberty, and the pursuit of animal fat.

          1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            One thing that fascinates and bewilders me about the particular subcategory of food woomeisters that is obsessed with spreading the Gospel of Saturated Fat and Animal Products is that they really do appear to live in this parallel universe of their own making, where Fascist Food Police have cleansed all supermarkets of everything but margarine and bright blue skim yogurt in a tube and where and fat-free processed foods are touted by doctors as the key to health.

            That’s not limited to food woo, nearly every SCAMster believes that jackbooted thugs are, even now, just waiting for the order to kick down doors to take away their fiber pills (i.e. ground up leaves of dubious origin), rather than say – ensuring the label matches the contents, and that the contents actually have proof of efficacy. It’s a massive, trenchcoat-wearing straw Nazi.

    5. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      This is just more evidence that ‘science’ just doesn’t understand nutrition

      You know who else doesn’t understand nutrition? Stan M Rak. See, this is the response to his comment where he talked about how important it was to get the right kind of vitamin E and how scientists were soooo stupid because they didn’t even realize there were different kinds. And then Angora Rabbit (guest post! Guest post!) pointed out that not only did scientists know there were different kinds of vitamin E, but that the kinds Stan said were super important actually are barely absorbed.

      Oh Stan, you suck at science.

      It’s told us for decades that salt causes hypertension, now they say, well, there never was conclusive evidence, so maybe not. The same goes for saturated fat causing heart disease – another myth promoted by science for decades, without any conclusive proof. Yet most everybody still believes it.

      Geez, it’s almost as if science is difficult if you try to really understand it instead of creating a cartoon version of it in your head. None of this changes the fact that you should consume a diet rich in unprocessed fruits and vegetables, with a moderate amount of fats and proteins. Guidelines like the ones being debated only affect those who avoid these common-sense recommendations and opt instead for some sort of extreme diet rich only in the fifth food group, “fried”.

      Someone please tell the folks in Switzerland and France that they should all be dying of heart disease from consuming so much saturated fat, because they’re not cooperating with the science.

      Someone should tell the folks in America that the Swiss and French are a lot more active and drive a lot less than they do, and that Americans should, as a society, spend more time walking and less time driving. That’s one factor that confounds any naive comparisons of countries. But you’re all about naive comparisons, aren’t you stan?

  11. Windriven says:

    The Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece yesterday titled, “The Salt Libel.” Just in case you are too dim to infer the gist from the title, the author chose as his/her first sentence, “We were told the science was settled.” Much of the rest of the column misstates the science around dietary sodium and suggests that (dark music plays in background) Big Government is “locking in” bad science. John Galt as salt miner. Jesus.

    I wonder if our own resident moron stan is moonlighting for Paul Gigot?

    1. Angora Rabbit says:

      “We were told the science was settled.”

      Sh!t. I never got that memo. Someone please add me to the mailing list.

      Anyone with half a brain can open the National Academy DRIs and take a look. But that would be work.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        You should also get on the list for the Pharma Lucre cheques. Mine have been coming late (actually, they’ve all been late – I’ve yet to receive one), but I’m sure it’s in the mail. People keep talking about how I’m a paid shill, so I thought I’d cash in.

    2. Sawyer says:

      The Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece…

      Might as well be referencing the Onion.

      Sorry for letting politics intrude into this discussion, but I’m quite confident the wold of science and the WSJ op-ed page have been heading in opposite directions from one another for nearly 20 years.

      1. Windriven says:

        Yes, predictably science-dismissive except when science supports their prejudices. But they reach a large audience.

        I make it a point to follow a wide a variety of news sources including WSJ (its news operation is not nearly as conservative as op-Ed) for center-right, PBS for center-left, The Economist for balance and depth, and I dabble rarely in the nut fringes of MSNBC and Fox. Driving to SeaTac today I happened upon Rush Limbaugh. I think it knocked 20-30 points of my IQ and I only listened for a minute or two. Really, it was embarrassing. Throwing up strawmen and invoking racism. Cringeworthy.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          He’s fun to yell at though. My wife’s not a fan, so I only listen to such idiots when I’m alone in my car.

        2. Petticoat Philosopher says:

          Whoooaaaa, come on, OT and I know I’m letting my own politics intrude here, but comparing MSNBC to Fox is a false equivalency! (I apologize if you weren’t actually establishing an equivalency.) MSNBC has way too many egotistical, red-faced, shouting men for my taste* but at least MSNBC’s egotistical, red-faced shouting men are shouting about things that actually exist, not things that are just plain made up. Every time I catch a few minutes of Fox, I feel like I’m in The Twilight Zone, where our president is a socialist, foreign-born Muslim who wants to take away everyone’s guns, white Christians are an oppressed minority and climate change is a conspiracy cooked up by evil scientists to…I don’t know, do something evil!

          Also, I don’t actually find MSNBC to be that much further left than NPR–the people on it are just a lot louder and more annoying. The actual leftist equivalent to people who sing the praises of Ayn Rand and want to wield machine guns at Starbucks would be actual radical, pro-violent-revolution Marxists.

          *I do enjoy Rachel Maddow because she’s kind of a break from all that and I find her quite articulate and analytical, even if she definitely has a “side”–which she doesn’t try to hide.

  12. Crider says:

    Well, it’s heartening to find out that humanity was saved from extinction through an increased risk of mortality and cardiovascular events thanks to the invention of the salt shaker.

    1. Sean Duggan says:

      I’m lacking the proper citation in hand, but I remember a line in Paleofantasy citing how one of the genetic changes that stuck around in the majority of humanity was an adaptation that made us able to eat more meat, but also has side effects of atherosclerosis. :-P So, not the salt shaker, but the particular gene modifier may have resulted in increased human survival through an increased risk of mortality and cardiovascular events.

      1. KayMarie says:

        I can’t recall the reference, but there was some discussion awhile back concerning the difference in stoke/CVD risk in Afro-Americans and the African ethnic groups that most of them came from.

        A lot of genetic variations that are relatively common in the population have both potential benefits and risks. So some alleles that tend to increase risk for certain chronic diseases (or make you a carrier so your children end up chronically ill or fatally ill) may have an advantage in a specific set of adverse conditions. All you need is one group surviving a disaster, or illness or human-induced lethal situation a bit better than another and something may become common that in other situations seems like it should only be a bad thing.

        1. George Cross says:

          Kind of like how sickle cell disease is terrible, but protective against plasmodia infection from malaria.

          http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/about/biology/sickle_cell.html

          Evolution selects for whatever works at the time.

  13. ChristineRose says:

    It seems like I recall the New York Times doing a blind taste test on various gourmet salts and found that the trace elements really didn’t make any difference but that the size of the crystals did. That is, coarse kosher salt really does taste better than standard shaker salt. The reasoning was that the larger crystals don’t dissolve into the food and have more of an impact on your tongue, even if the net amount of sodium chloride is the same. I think there’s something similar with sugar, as the crunchy brown stuff has much more of an impact sprinkled on top of the cappucino than does the pallid white stuff which sinks and dissolves.

    1. Missmolly says:

      Could that have been Jeffrey Steingarten from Vogue? He was very pleased with himself when he was the only one on a panel of experts who could successfully identify the fancy salt from the chaff! The article is compiled in his book ‘The man who ate everything’- a fantastic, piss-funny and informative read, but not (and not intended to be) hard science :)

      1. Alia says:

        Got this book as a wedding gift – and yes, it’s really a very fun read. I don’t remember the part about salt, though, only about ketchup.

        1. Molly says:

          Great book! I love the chapter on Salad the Silent Killer.

        2. Missmolly says:

          Sorry, it must have been in the follow up ‘It must have been something I ate’, which is also delightful. My favourite is the story that begins with him spreading freshly-made bread with non-fat butter substitute, and leaving it out for his unsuspecting wife. ‘Oh how we laughed!’

  14. goodnightirene says:

    The leading cause of death in Switzerland is coronary heart disease–although most people do not succumb until in their 80’s.

    1. stanmrak says:

      With the amount of saturated fat they consume over there, they should be dropping like flies at a much younger age. They still live longer than saturated-fat-phobic americans. And they do like their pastries.

      1. Windriven says:

        What makes you think the Swiss eat huge amounts of sat-fats? It may interest you to know that the Swiss very strictly regulate the sale of foods with trans fats. Us, not so much.

        I’d like to claim that this law explains the nearly three year advantage that the Swiss have over Americans in life expectancy. But that law isn’t even ten years old. More likely it is the far more active lifestyle of the average Swiss but I have no evidence to prove it.

        1. Peter S says:

          There is a difference between saturated fats and trans fats, no?

          1. Windriven says:

            Oh yes, Peter. That is correct. I used trans fats only to illustrate the Swiss sensitivity to dietary fat. I was unable to come up with good data on sat fats so used trans as a general pointer.

          2. Thor says:

            There’s a structural difference, but trans fats are, indeed, saturated fats. Trans are much more detrimental. Mainly man-made but also found in small amounts in meat and dairy.
            If memory serves me, the many earlier studies done on saturated fats didn’t differentiate between them and trans fats, ie. they were included as saturated. Which was a confounder, perhaps giving saturated fat a more negative assessment.

            1. Cristian says:

              @Thor
              NO NO NO!
              Trans fats are UNSATURATED fats (i.e. with at least 1 double bond between C atoms).
              Saturated fats have no double bonds in their chains.
              Trans fats have no determined benefit for the health of a human, but have the effect of raising LDL (and lowering HDL, and increasing circulating TAG).

              1. Angora Rabbit says:

                Ditto what Cristian said. You cannot isomerize a c-c lipid bond that’s saturated. Trans FAs are made by partially saturating polyunsaturated fats, reducing but not eliminating their double bonds.

              2. Chris says:

                This confuses me. But since I have high cholesterol I try to be careful, so I limit my fats to olive oil, butter, cheese and bacon. I do have a tiny container of shortening that I keep in the fridge, mostly I have had the stuff go rancid because I use it so seldom (I only use it for the biannual pie crust).

                My last lipid panel had my LDL at 102, but my HDL was 92. While it is over 200, it is a good ratio. I do take a small dose of simvastatin. Because while I was able to lower my cholesterol by diet and exercise, after a couple of years my liver decided I needed more.

                Stupid genetics.

                Dear hubby has very low cholesterol. He comes from a Dutch family where most recipes started with “melt half a kilo of butter in a pan” and is the reason we have a fridge full of lots of types of cheese.

                Note: on a visit to his cousin a few years ago in the Netherlands, she and her family no longer cook with bucket loads of butter. Things change. Though her kids behaved just like mine had a few years earlier. My then eighteen year old son was amused when his younger six year old second cousin took a toy car on a swim in the soup!

      2. Sawyer says:

        Stan if you can demonstrate you have even a first year medical student’s understanding of how well-controlled, scientific experiments in nutrition are designed and the proper conclusions that can be drawn from them, we’ll all yield to your superior brain power and admit saturated fats are harmless.

        You’ve had hundreds of opportunities to take up challenges like this one, and I have no doubt you’ll respond to this one with the same level of honesty and curiosity that you’ve offered us in the past.

        1. Petticoat Philosopher says:

          A first year medical student? Hell, how about just a college freshman that doesn’t sleep through every class! I’m pretty sure my professors began teaching us about well-controlled experiments, peer review, proper citation etc. in the first week of class, just so we’d be able to do our assignments. Being able to distinguish good sources from bad and being able to interpret them properly is a basic research skill necessary for minimally decent undergraduate-level work in multiple disciplines. But that seems to be beyond Stan–and many other self-styled authorities on human health, which is pretty scary to me.

      3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        With the amount of saturated fat they consume over there, they should be dropping like flies at a much younger age. They still live longer than saturated-fat-phobic americans. And they do like their pastries.

        Huh, well the pastries (made with refined white flour) seems to argue against that being a major killer.

        Can you tell me how they differ from Americans in terms of BMI? Exercise rates? Health care? Fruit and vegetable intake? Consumption, in grams, of saturated fat versus Americans?

        It’s almost as if diet and long-term health were complicated and confounded…

      4. James Peters says:

        Maybe they eat more fruit & veg, lots of garlic, exercise more often and eat less junk

    2. Jopari says:

      Here’s a hypothesis. Different environment, different needs, the colder the place, the more energy is required to warm the body. Fat is a very good provider of energy.

      Though I’ll need to look and see the temperature differences between the average person and also the proportion of energy consumption to ambient temperature changes.

  15. Stella B. says:

    Salt and sugar are tremendous taste enhancers and appetite stimulant. They do any excellent job of covering up the flavor of poor quality ingredients. They aren’t poisonous by any means, but they do encourage the overconsumption of calories. There is a reason why salty snacks are served in bars.

    1. Cervantes says:

      I think the bar is more interested in making you thirsty than in making you hungry.

  16. Chris says:

    I usually like pointing out to folks that the salt is pink due to really cool halophiles, which are bacteria and archaea that like lots of salt. Though I think the staff at the swanky kitchen shop are not too happy when I mention it in front the shelves of expensive salt.

    1. Calli Arcale says:

      Of course, that only makes it *more* interesting to the nerd contingent. ;-)

  17. MTDoc says:

    Always figured the sea salt is better for you claim was ridiculous, even suggesting that it had a lower sodium content. I guess it technically does, but the decrease has to be miniscule. Now if I can get the image of HH glowing in the dark out of my head, I’ll go to work. Interesting topic. I never realized there were so many table salts.

  18. Sean Duggan says:

    Back when they changed the guidelines, I was left with the impression that high sodium intake was only an issue for people with high blood pressure already, making their symptoms worse, and that it was harmless for everyone else, the general guidelines being because they didn’t trust people to recognize that they had high blood pressure. I take it that I misunderstood? Or did the studies just show that, if you have a populace where a small percentage have a mortality risk with exposure, upping the value overall results in that percentage suffering from the higher mortality?

    On a side note, my wife swears up and down that her doctor told her to reduce sodium intake to combat high cholesterol. My impulse is that she’s confusing things, but I figured I’d ask if there were any credence to that.

    1. MTDoc says:

      All hypertension is not the same, even so-called essential hypertension. Some is more sodium sensitive than others, hence saluretics ( diuretics that actually remove sodium, taking water along with it) are common first line drugs. But these work much better with some people, and there are even racial and ethnic differences. We sometimes think of a given patient’s hypertension as either being salt sensitive or not. So it is reasonable to believe sodium is not a universal culprit, but we almost always try to restrict it in treating hypertension. We generally agree everybody gets more than they need, so it’s sort of a no brainer.

      I’m reminded of a day when the local aluminum plant, a hot environment, actually encouraged workers to take salt pills during a work shift. In retrospect they would probably have been better off sticking to plain water.

      I know of no connection between sodium and cholesterol. I suspect that may have been more or less general advice aimed at preventing the cardiovascular endpoints, lipids and BP being risk factors.

    2. whoa says:

      Sodium intake has nothing to do with high cholesterol.

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        The very fact that you make this statement makes me doubt it.

  19. mouse says:

    On Pink Salt. I bought some awhile back because it was on sale and it was pretty.

    It’s been sitting in the cupboard, wasn’t really sure the best application. Sure I could use it as regular salt, but it seems like I should highlight the color somehow.

    It then occurred to me how sweet it would look rimming the glass on a margarita.

    Two pretty margaritas, on the rocks, with a dash of radiation. ;)

    1. MTDoc says:

      You too can glow in the dark! ☺

      1. mouse says:

        The better to find your drink with.

        1. MTDoc says:

          ☺(can’t make the damn thing come out in color. I hate computers!)

          1. mouse says:

            Hah!, I doubt it’s possible to change the color of your emoticon. But it would have been sweet to see a florescent green happy face. ;)

  20. whoa says:

    Salt has never been an important cause of chronic hypertension, except for a minority of individuals who may be salt sensitive.

    Chronic hypertension usually results from the modern industrial lifestyle of physical inactivity and refined carbohydrates. This lifestyle can cause chronic inflammation of arteries, which results in hardening of artery walls, which in turn causes chronic hypertension, which can lead to heart disease and stroke.

    The association between high dietary salt and artery disease was originally based on correlations. People in traditional societies are unlikely to have artery disease, and also don’t eat high levels of salt. However, they also don’t follow the modern industrial lifestyle.

    Refined carbohydrates are a much more important cause of chronic inflammation, type 2 diabetes, and artery disease.

    How much salt you eat doesn’t matter very much. Yes, it does taste good, as long as it does not contain additives (the additives taste like poison, to me).

    Yes we need some iodine but we don’t need it added to our salt.

    1. n brownlee says:

      The addition of iodine to table salt has virtually eliminated goiter from the populace not just of this country- but in many countries, world wide. Here’s a nice Wiki about the once widespread and now virtually unheard of problem of iodine deficiency and goiter- and about David Cowrie, the pediatrician who introduced the practice in the US. He was a public hero.

    2. Chris says:

      “Chronic hypertension usually results from the modern industrial lifestyle of physical inactivity and refined carbohydrates”

      Or genetics. Warning: this is an anecdote. My stepmother’s family had a genetic form of hypertension. As she said what typically happened in their large Norwegian family (her father had seventeen siblings) was that they “dropped dead” sometime in their forties.

      Though in reality they died slowly and painfully. About a dozen years after her father died, one of her older brothers died from it. There were pictures of him when he was suffering. Then the first diuretics for blood pressure made available in the 1950s. She and her remaining four siblings lived well into their 70s, including one who lived into his 90s.

      After she came into our family when I was eleven years old, my dad, the one who cooked, worked hard to reduce salt intake (using herbs and spices, and generally cooking well). So I became used to food that had less salt. It made it interesting when I met my husband, because I spent ages just to get him to taste the food before he puts salt on it.

      1. MTDoc says:

        Back again to the observation that there are a subset of people that are salt sensitive, and that has genetic implications. It may also relate someway to the metabolic syndrome, also genetic. Like your husband, I always salted my food before tasting it. Once I broke that habit, I now do not especially like salty food. Looks like you have conditioned your your husband to redefine his taste preferences, which is perhaps why married men live longer.

        Now, my hypertension is the “isolated systolic” type, and I have no illusions that it doesn’t reflect hard pipes. Diuretics help, but with so many elderly diabetics, multiple drug therapy is required to get BP anywhere near target. The only reason I am on target (most of the time) is that they recently relaxed the standards for us oldtimers. As for me, my BP runs a few points higher, but I feel ten years younger.

        1. Chris says:

          “Like your husband, I always salted my food before tasting it. Once I broke that habit, I now do not especially like salty food. Looks like you have conditioned your your husband to redefine his taste preferences, which is perhaps why married men live longer.”

          Le sigh. Though he will always bring out the hot chili flakes to sprinkle on the Sloppy Joe mix or taco meat. Le sigh.

          My father started to cook for himself as a child when his parents divorced in the 1930s. So he has always been a keen cook. He claims to have taught both wives how to cook (my mother and stepmother were childhood friends*, they were from a Wisconsin town settled by two Norwegian towns, they may have been related).

          I tried to find out about my father’s cardiac history when my son was diagnosed with obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopahty. This is when I found out that on paternal great-grandparents split up in the 1930s was because my great-grandmother wanted to be with her girlfriend. Apparently the citizens of Yakima, WA were cool with that and the travel agency she ran with her girlfriend was okay. Who knew?

          Such is the medical history of those who are from far west dysfunctional families. It does not help that a genetic screening of my son did find any of the known sequences that cause obstructive hypertropic cardiomiopathy.

          * My mother and stepmother were childhood friends. They both grew up in a Midwestern town settled essentially by two entire towns from Norway. They could have been cousins. So the cardiology issues may be related. Though saddest thing one will ever hear is my stepsister telling about the time when she was seven years old and that my mother asked her about the opinion she has about the Christmas presents she bought for her kids…. just a day before she died in a plane crash on December 12, 1968</a?.

        2. whoa says:

          MTDoc,

          Metabolic syndrome is mostly lifestyle-related. It’s easier to blame genetics and take pills than to modify your lifestyle.

          1. MTDoc says:

            I think that is generally true. And perhaps what I have is a combination of signs that represent something else. I am active (hyperactive), not overweight, but diabetic and hypertensive, while my brothers tend to be sedentary and heavier, yet free of these problems. I do find that the more activity my aging body can endure, the easier my BP is to control. And I maintain a Aic below 6.

            1. weing says:

              But, but, we can’t make you feel guilty for your eating habits in that case.

              1. MTDoc says:

                Just got it! ☺

            2. Alia says:

              Well, I’m in my mid-thirties, not overweight (lost about 50lb several years ago and have been keeping the weight since), active (workout 2-3x a week, plus walking almost every day, as I walk part of the way to work), I drink in moderation and have never smoked a cigarette in my life, I cook my own meals and try to make them as healthy as possible – and guess what? Recently I learnt I have slightly elevated bp. Not dangerously yet, but still (and when I was younger, my bp was usually on the lower end of the scale).
              Well, problably that’s from being stressed and overworked and maybe also medication that I’m on – but that isn’t something I can help right now.

              1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                Irrespective the BP, congratulations on making so many positive lifestyle changes and sticking to it!

          2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            Metabolic syndrome is mostly lifestyle-related. It’s easier to blame genetics and take pills than to modify your lifestyle.

            Oh, well if it’s that simple, just tell all the fat people with high blood pressure to eat well and exercise. Because the human brain is perfect, they’ll just do it.

            Yeah, the problem is people don’t know that high blood pressure, obesity, processed foods and sedentarism is bad for you. Somebody should make a show about this.

            1. Sean Duggan says:

              I’ve heard about that show. Talks about how you can lose weight when you have the luxury of nutritionists making your meal plan, the studio buying your expensive food, and no need to work, so you can work out for several hours every day. While I respect the people who succeed in losing weight on the program, it creates an extremely unrealistic expectation in the viewers. Unrealistic for the people on the show too… my understanding is that most of them gain back almost all of the weight the moment they have to buy their own food and squeeze in exercise in between work and sleep.

              1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                All absolutely true – but still a hugely successful show because it represents one of the great bugbears of contemporary first-world society. It sells because you can simultaneously see yourself in the future and feel good about your present, because at least you don’t look as bad as that guy.

        3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          One thing I’m trying to deal with, not being an American, is the America’s Test Kitchen recipes. I’m a fan, a big fan of the business (not their business model though, I’ve 9 copies of the same recipe) but I have recently started cutting in half or even eliminating the salt they add because at times it was almost painful.

          Regional variations in taste are interesting, apparently US Froot Loops are different from the kind I can buy (not that I buy them).

          1. Windriven says:

            I’ve never paid attention to the salt except when used in brines or cures. I salt to taste as I build the dish so I really don’t know whether I go light or heavy but I’m guessing light.

            1. n brownlee says:

              I keep it light, too- on the premise that it’s easy to add, hard to remove. My tendency to add garlic until I get tired of peeling and mashing cloves keeps the flavor factor pretty high, too.

              1. simba says:

                The Indian shops will often sell you jars of minced garlic,and minced ginger (sometimes both combined.)

                It’s not quite as nice as the real stuff but you can add six times as much. If there’s anything we’ve learned from the Big Suppla shills it’s that more is better, right? Vitamin C, garlic… yogurt…

              2. n brownlee says:

                @Simba
                Yes- I do sometimes succumb to the jarred garlic. I grow ginger, so usually have it around in sufficient quantity. We have a number of small Indian shops in the neighborhood- and a local, longtime chili supply company that honestly is better. Penderry’s Chili Supply was on the edge of the downtown district for decades- a wonderful old wooden floored, high-ceilinged building that had stored and sold wholesale spices for so long, the walls were saturated with scent. Wholesale quantities only, you had to make treks with friends to split up the poundage, but they had, and have, more than a hundred types of dried chilies, and almost as many blends. Plus- any other dried spice or herb you may want, all superlative quality.

                There’s a retail store now- and it’s great. I shop there frequently.

              3. Petticoat Philosopher says:

                Ooh, you need one of these–no peeling necessary!

                http://www.amazon.com/Zyliss-Susi-3-Garlic-Press/dp/B007D3V00Q

                I swear I’m not making any money off of this, I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this garlic press almost as much as I love garlic itself. An old roommate of mine had one and, when he moved out, I had to get one for myself. In the years since then, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve given them as (well-received) gifts to other garlic enthusiasts.

            2. Windriven says:

              @Petticoat

              I’ve bought or been given a number of these gadgets – though not that Zyliss – and remain unimpressed. Nothing is faster that a whack with the flat of a chef’s knife. The peel comes off in a single piece. Then a second whack flattens the clove(s). 10 seconds of chopping and its done. The knife can be washed in a nonce. Those damned presses always end up with little bits of garlic stuck in the holes and I end up using a toothpick to clean them out.

              Just my opinion.

              1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                A toothbrush is faster than a toothpick, plus you can re-use it.

              2. simba says:

                That requires the skill to whack something with the flat of a chef’s knife without embedding the knife in the board or seriously injuring yourself.

                Not that I would do that. Cough cough.

              3. Windriven says:

                @WLU

                I could but the garlic flavor clashes with the cinnamon flavor of my toothpaste.

                @simba

                Maybe the Zyliss is a better plan for you ;-)

              4. n brownlee says:

                Yes- thank you Jacques Pepin, circa 1969 or something. Works like a charm, and fast. A jar opener works, too- the thin rubbery gripper disk type. You put the clove on it, fold it and rub, and the skin comes off.

              5. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

                I think the cinnamon in your toothpaste clashes with the cinnamon in your toothpaste. There are right answers, and “mint” is the right answer for toothpaste.

              6. Windriven says:

                William, ‘mint’ is the right answer only for ‘julep.’ I want my mouth to tingle after brushing. Draino* would be good but too hard on the enamel and I don’t like the lye aftertaste. Unfortunately, most of the herd share your aversion to adult flavored toothpastes and mine has become increasingly difficult to find. I now keep not less than 6 tubes in my closet at all times. That should be enough for my eleven remaining teeth (the Draino really did take a toll) for the rest of my natural life.

                * Public service note to Steve Rodrigues, whoa, and others of their ilk: Draino never belongs anywhere but a slow sink. It will kill you. If it doesn’t, it will make you wish you were dead.

              7. Petticoat Philosopher says:

                I do employ the whacking method on occasion, but more when I want the cloves to stay whole (but squished) or in bigger chunks. I hate most garlic presses because of how difficult they are to clean but I like that they truly mince/crush the garlic–even chopping very finely does not have the same effect. I’ve found this garlic press to be much easier to clean than most and I can rip through half a head of garlic spending a few seconds on each clove. But, at some level of skill in garlic violence, saving seconds doesn’t matter that much, I suppose. I wonder if anyone has contests? :-P

              8. Windriven says:

                @Petticoat

                It sounds as if you know your way around the kitchen.

                “I like that they truly mince/crush the garlic–even chopping very finely does not have the same effect.”

                You may know this trick but if you mince the garlic but want it finer or more pastelike, sprinkle the minced garlic with a little kosher salt and run the flat of a chef’s knife over it a few times, sort of smearing the garlic against the board. Better than mortar and pestle in my book.

              9. mouse says:

                I do not whack my garlic with a knife. I cut off the end, then place the flat of the blade on the clove, put other hand over the flat and press, crushing the garlic and flattening the clove. The peal (but not my fingers) comes off nicely. I chop it haphazardly, cause if you’re picky, you should not be eating my cooking.

                That gadget looks nice, but my kitchen is small and we have a moratorium on gadgets.

              10. mouse says:

                Mint is also for mojito.

                Having adapted to switching between children’s favored toothpaste (bubblegum blast anyone?) and adult’s, I can tolerate just about any flavor now.

              11. Windriven says:

                @mouse,

                I’ve used all three approaches with the kitchen knife: the ‘whack’ – a single strike with the broad side of the knife, the ‘crush’ with the broad side that you recommend, and the ‘smoosh’ the broad side of the knife with the heel of your hand. I hope one day to publish a double-blinded, peer-reviewed study demonstrating the clear superiority of the ‘whack’ for removing the peel, and the ‘crush’ for breaking down the clove in preparation for mincing.

                I however usually use the ‘smoosh’ for both because it relieves the tension that builds after reading SSR and whoa in these pages. I do admit to the undesirable side effect of shooting bits of garlic around the kitchen. But by long agreed convention, I cook and Mrs. Windriven cleans. So, without putting too fine a point on it, not my problem. ;-)

    3. Chris says:

      And a review of the genetics of hypertension:
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21462849

    4. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Salt has never been an important cause of chronic hypertension, except for a minority of individuals who may be salt sensitive.

      The very fact that you are so certain when actual experts are uncertain points to your presence right in the deepest part of the trench of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

      If it were that simple, we’d already know it.

      Chronic hypertension usually results from the modern industrial lifestyle of physical inactivity and refined carbohydrates. This lifestyle can cause chronic inflammation of arteries, which results in hardening of artery walls, which in turn causes chronic hypertension, which can lead to heart disease and stroke.

      Jebus, someone tell the scientists we don’t need any more research, because now we know!

      The association between high dietary salt and artery disease was originally based on correlations. People in traditional societies are unlikely to have artery disease, and also don’t eat high levels of salt. However, they also don’t follow the modern industrial lifestyle.

      Wow, and if researchers were complete idiots, they might never have noticed that.

      It’s funny to read your comments in light of your ongoing assertion that people aren’t stupid and aren’t affected by cognitive fallacies. Like, really, really funny.

      Refined carbohydrates are a much more important cause of chronic inflammation, type 2 diabetes, and artery disease.

      While your certainty is probably misplaced, this is a generally-held belief with good evidence. That’s why public health officials recommend avoiding refined carbohydrates and consuming complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables instead.

      How much salt you eat doesn’t matter very much. Yes, it does taste good, as long as it does not contain additives (the additives taste like poison, to me).

      I would wager a shiny dollar that in a blind taste test you couldn’t tell the difference.

      Yes we need some iodine but we don’t need it added to our salt.

      Yes, that’s why doctors don’t know what a goiter is, and why the goiter belt was never a thing.

      Merely because something is iconoclastic doesn’t mean it’s right, and if you think it’s simple, that’s more a reflection of your own ignorance than it is a reflection of how simple it actually is.

      1. whoa says:

        [It’s funny to read your comments in light of your ongoing assertion that people aren’t stupid and aren’t affected by cognitive fallacies. ]

        You misunderstood me as usual;.

        We are all “stupid” because the things we try to understand are often extremely complex. This is true of non-scientists and scientists. Scientists and experts have the same kind of limitations as everyone else.

        The low salt myth got started and somehoe it could not be stopped. it was never based on good evidence.

        We “stupid” but not because of biases or emotions, or any of the things that are usually blamed. We are complex creatures in a wolrd that is even more complex than we are.

        It is hard for us to make sense out of the world, and we do our best. It is even harder for scientists to make sense out of the things they study.

        That is why non-experts should always be skeptical of the advice given by experts. We are all limited and fallible.

        Ordinary common sense reasoning is not so different from the scientific method. We can’t do double-blind placebo controlled experiments for most of our daily experiments, but we do follow logical and efficient methods, in general.

        When someone appears really stupid, it’s probably just because they are out of their element. Just about everyone is good at the things they have done every day for a long time.

        I try to respect human beings in general, and other animals also. The appearance of stupidity is generally an illusion.

        I have nothing against science, but it definitely should not be worshiped. The success of our technology has caused many people to worship science, and it therefore has been given too much power. So we really should be skeptical.

        1. Andrey Pavlov says:

          I have nothing against science, but it definitely should not be worshiped. The success of our technology has caused many people to worship science, and it therefore has been given too much power. So we really should be skeptical.

          In other words, you like all the nice stuff science has given you but don’t like how it is demonstrated your pre-scientific beliefs about gods, metaphysics, vital forces, intuition, and “other ways of knowing” are all bunk that should be discarded so you are content to pick and choose which parts of science you like and which ones you will be skeptical of.

          Very convenient.

          1. whoa says:

            The mainstream science establishment didn’t give us technology. There can be overlap between science and engineering but they are not the same thing.

            And science has not demonstrated that religion is bunk. Mistaking atheistic materialism for science is common these days, but has no basis in logic or evidence.

            1. simba says:

              “We are all “stupid” because the things we try to understand are often extremely complex. This is true of non-scientists and scientists. Scientists and experts have the same kind of limitations as everyone else.”

              This is exactly what people were trying to explain to you on the other thread, which is why testimonials aren’t good evidence of anything.

            2. Windriven says:

              “The mainstream science establishment didn’t give us technology.”

              Really? Newton, Maxwell, Faraday, Ohm, Bernoulli. If not from them, from who? Did god send a memo to IBM?

              “There can be overlap between science and engineering but they are not the same thing.”

              Engineering is applied science. There can be science without engineering. There can be tinkering without science. There cannot be engineering without science.

              “And science has not demonstrated that religion is bunk.”

              Science doesn’t have to. Religion has to demonstrate that it is not bunk – and it hasn’t. So …

              “Mistaking atheistic materialism for science is common these days, but has no basis in logic or evidence.”

              Science is science. I’m not precisely sure what “atheistic materialism” is but I see no evidence that mistaking one for the other is “common.”

              So as is your habit, you have left a stinking pile of sh!t on the sidewalk. One of those small brown coils that irksome little yippie-dogs leave. And like the dog sh!t, your comment amounts to nearly nothing. Mostly empty and wrong where it isn’t. I’ll bet you’re proud.

              1. Calli Arcale says:

                No engineering without science…. It’s true. You need a foundation, or you’re just screwing around. We must remember Akin’s Laws:

                1. Engineering is done with numbers. Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

                9. Not having all the information you need is never a satisfactory excuse for not starting the analysis.

                10. When in doubt, estimate. In an emergency, guess. But be sure to go back and clean up the mess when the real numbers come along.

            3. Andrey Pavlov says:

              And science has not demonstrated that religion is bunk. Mistaking atheistic materialism for science is common these days, but has no basis in logic or evidence.

              Standard fare from a mind almost certainly beyond reach.

              Nobody but you can convince you to stop clinging to delusions.

              1. Windriven says:

                Reading Whoa drone on about “logic or evidence” is enough to give me a migraine. Luckily, I don’t get migraines. A Whoa-induced migraine would probably be fatal.

            4. Chris says:

              “The mainstream science establishment didn’t give us technology. There can be overlap between science and engineering but they are not the same thing.”

              I say this as an engineer: that is hilarious.

              It is obvious you never spent anytime in a physics class or any math class past high school (barely). Because the computer and internet system kind of depends of much of the science and physics from at least the time of Faraday to the present. Plus that very important mathematical concept known as complex plane.

              “And science has not demonstrated that religion is bunk”

              Really, how do you prove something that has been completely made up by human imagination? Like thinking the universe rotated around this planet, and was made in just a week.

            5. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

              The mainstream science establishment didn’t give us technology. There can be overlap between science and engineering but they are not the same thing.

              The history of engineering is an astonishingly slow one until basic science revealed that many of the preconceptions about the world were wrong. The history of medicine is even worse. Science without technology is sterile, technology without science is impotent.

              And science has not demonstrated that religion is bunk. Mistaking atheistic materialism for science is common these days, but has no basis in logic or evidence.

              Most importantly thought, the grand claims of religion, the astonishingly bold proclamations about the supernatural, the existence of life after death, the demands for civil authority and the ability to police morality, are all based on exactly nothing. If you’re lucky, a holy book (not that there’s much holy about a book – anyone can write one).

              The funny thing is that you claim it is up to science to prove religion wrong. What a stupid idea. It’s incumbent upon the religious, if they are going to proclaim they have the truth, to present some reason to believe beyond “trust me, now take your pants off, God wants this”.

              Your last foray into the area had you insisting on the existence of a deity because quantum physics said there might be other universes. From there you extrapolated that there must be other universes filled with powerful consciousnesses that can influence our universe and cares very deeply about one planet in an infinite void, but only when one species of mammal, for one tiny slice of that planet’s life span, only in one tiny, insignificant, dusty part of the world filled with dirt-grubbing shepherds. Even your first premise is theoretical, I’m not sure how you can justify the remainder.

              Oh, but that’s right – you said that you weren’t speaking about the Christian God, it could have been any god, nudge, nudge. As if that helped your argument.

              Anyone got a link? It reads much better in the original context.

              Yeah…maybe you don’t try to use science to justify religion. I’ll respect you more if you leave it as an article of pure faith.

              1. Chris says:

                I suspect if Whoa watched the recent Cosmos series with Neil DeGrasse Tyson that he yelled at the screen often. Especially when stories trying to explain various natural phenomena (stars, seasons, etc) from various world religions were portrayed.

            6. weing says:

              “The mainstream science establishment didn’t give us technology.”

              Are you trying to say the mainstream religious establishment gave us technology? Something like at Hogwarts?

              “And science has not demonstrated that religion is bunk.”

              Science has no need of the religious hypothesis. I can see how it can actually impede scientific progress.

        2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          You misunderstood me as usual;.

          Maybe you explain yourself badly.

          We are all “stupid” because the things we try to understand are often extremely complex. This is true of non-scientists and scientists. Scientists and experts have the same kind of limitations as everyone else.

          The Dunning Kruger effect is the idea that the more you know, up to a point, the more confident you are in your incorrect answers. An example follows:

          The low salt myth got started and somehoe it could not be stopped. it was never based on good evidence.

          See? Dunning-Kruger. It’s based on the premise that somehow all the experts looked at the same evidence and got it wrong, but you were prescient and knew all along (and that your current cartoon-understanding is right, and not a gross oversimplification).

          We “stupid” but not because of biases or emotions, or any of the things that are usually blamed. We are complex creatures in a wolrd that is even more complex than we are.

          Um, no – there’s a ton of evidence that we are “stupid” in part because of our biases and emotions, which are geared towards short-term survival advantage only. Your claims are once again geared towards the exact opposite of what the research says. But partly this is because of another fallacy, blindness to our own fallacies. Don’t worry – it’s part and parcel of being human, you’re not special.

          It is hard for us to make sense out of the world, and we do our best. It is even harder for scientists to make sense out of the things they study.

          Particularly because they understand just how complex it is in their sub-sub-sub-specialty, while we have to make do with our lies-told-to-children versions. Why you would make this statement and still think you know better than experts on salt and diet is yet another example of a cognitive bias, the holding of two mutually-contradictory ideas. Just fine so long as it doesn’t challenge the ego.

          That is why non-experts should always be skeptical of the advice given by experts.

          Wow, you should be used as an example of how Dunning-Kruger interferes with one’s ability to apprehend reality. That’s astonishing – because experts understand a tremendous amount about the complex world, we should trust them less. Brilliant reasoning.

          We are all limited and fallible.

          What does that say about your willingness to provide advice regarding cervical vertebrae adjustments to people with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue? Or your ongoing assertion that people’s brains are actually miraculously able to correctly distinguish reality despite thousands of years of getting it wrong?

          Ordinary common sense reasoning is not so different from the scientific method. We can’t do double-blind placebo controlled experiments for most of our daily experiments, but we do follow logical and efficient methods, in general.

          Hah, bullshit. If common sense reasoning were so close to the scientific method, it wouldn’t have taken 100,000 years to develop the scientific method. And the use of scientific controls is pretty much the defining characteristic of scientific medicine. Further, the contemporary scientific method is defined by predictions in an effort to prove them wrong; my common-sense daily interactions are based on the assumption that my existing beliefs are right. So basically what you’re saying is “if you take all the stuff out of the scientific method that makes it scientific, it’s basically like common sense”.

          When someone appears really stupid, it’s probably just because they are out of their element. Just about everyone is good at the things they have done every day for a long time.

          Sure, that’s fine for things like grocery shopping and taking the bus. That’s not true for science. And in fact, lots of people simply are stupid; there’s always a tail end of the curve.

          I try to respect human beings in general, and other animals also. The appearance of stupidity is generally an illusion.

          Respecting them as a person is one thing, pretending that someone’s demonstrably wrong beliefs are right is another.

          I have nothing against science, but it definitely should not be worshiped. The success of our technology has caused many people to worship science, and it therefore has been given too much power. So we really should be skeptical.

          Yes, we should. Science should be tested until it breaks, that is how it advances. But you can’t use common sense to navigate the technical and scientific realms that are vital to human life in modern times – that’s a recipe for disaster.

      2. Petticoat Philosopher says:

        I don’t even know if that’s true about people in traditional societies consuming little salt. True, it’s been quite expensive at certain points in the past and in certain places but, before refrigeration, most methods of food preservation relied upon it. I don’t actually know how sodium intake in various regions and time periods stacks up compared to contemporary, Western societies but it’s an interesting question and I highly doubt anyone who studies these things (which can be quite difficult) would ever give such a certain or pat answer as our friend here.

        Not that this really affects the larger argument here but the history and anthropology of food is actually a fascinating subject. It’s a shame to see it bastardized to the extent that it is by some food woo types to sell people on the idea of trying to emulate some highly romanticized, ahistoric, reductionist understanding of the “Traditional” (TM) or “Paleo” (TM) lifestyle.

        This stuff is as much of an affront to the the humanities and social sciences as it is to medicine and the “hard” sciences, in my opinion.

  21. Steven St. John says:

    I’ve been concerned about the new recommendations for some time. In an effort to create general guidelines that apply to everyone, it seemed to me that the recommendations are too sensitive to what we know about clinical populations, advice that may or may not apply well to people with healthy kidneys and cardiovascular systems. Furthermore, we know that in extreme situations, low salt levels can be deadly (as in exercise-associated hyponatremia). These results seem to indicate that the new recommended levels are unphysiologically low and potentially bad advice, with the possible exception of clinical populations. I hope that we will return to recommending moderate sodium intake – levels that, frankly, most people naturally gravitate to.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      You’ve just described the central problem with public health – it’s not simple. Hopefully genetic testing, SNP and measuring epigenetic markers will simplify and clarify some of the issues. But for now, public health officials have to aim at the broadest recommendations that do the most good.

    2. Sean Duggan says:

      And while reducing sodium intake is more or less a non-issue (as I understand it, it’s almost impossible for most people to drop below the minimum suggested RDA value), you run into the same problem as with the “no fat” or “no sugar” substitutes, that other things will get added back in to ensure adequate flavor.

  22. Frederick says:

    We used good old windsor table salt, most of the time. But, we have so e fleur de sel de guérande. It does have a small difference in taste and crunchiness. I must confess that we also have Vogel spicy salt. It is a salt, marinated with herds and veggies for month, in pasta it is awesome. BUT Vogel is a naturopath company, so once our current shaker is empty, we won’t by it anymore. Fortunately, we found a spice company that’s seem to make a equivalent. My wife totally agreed since she’s hate quack as much as I do.

  23. kaitch says:

    I heard on the med student grapevine about a case recently of a young man with significant hypokalaemia requiring serial K+ infusions. It turned out he had ingested very large amounts of caesium via Himalayan pink salt (??quantity). Because caesium is retained in the body at the expense of K+, he will require lifelong regular K+ infusions. I hope someone writes up the case sometime.

  24. Knox says:

    At the risk of being pedantic, there’s really no such thing as a “salt molecule.” Sodium Chloride, and all salts, for that matter, are ionic compounds. Ionic compounds aren’t composed of molecules in the same way as substances like water are, but are continuous networks of their constituents, i.e., a sodium atom is always bonded to six surrounding chlorine atoms, each of which are all bonded to six surrounding sodium atoms, and so on.
    Probably not super relevant, but I know chemists who would bristle pretty quickly at the mention of “salt molecules.”

  25. stanmrak says:

    2 completely contradictory articles on salt intake published in the mainstream media on the same day, both allegedly from the New England Journal of Medicine

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/what-should-your-salt-intake-be/

    http://online.wsj.com/articles/recommended-salt-levels-could-do-more-harm-than-good-study-suggests-1407964274

    1. Sawyer says:

      Really stan, you need us to explain the story of Goldilocks to you?

    2. Harriet Hall says:

      @stanmrak,
      “2 completely contradictory articles on salt intake published in the mainstream media on the same day, both allegedly from the New England Journal of Medicine”

      Did you read my article? I explained the results of 3 studies that were indeed from the NEJM. They were not contradictory. They indicated that too much salt is bad for you, but too little salt can be bad for you too. The two media article you cited simply chose to emphasize different aspects of the findings.

      1. Mie says:

        Apart from select populations, there’s no evidence that such a things as “too little salt” exists, at least when talking about realistic expectations of the levels that can be reached. All these three papers addressed the well-known problem with inverse causation that is known to plague epidemiological designs.

    3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      2 completely contradictory articles on salt intake published in the mainstream media on the same day, both allegedly from the New England Journal of Medicine

      Not that you’re accurately summarizing it, but still – it’s almost like understanding reality for human biology is complicated!

      I suppose your solution is to abandon science and just buy expensive vitamins. Presumably from you, because you conveniently offer them – right?

  26. Lucas Beauchamp says:

    I have never desired to eat, much less buy, Himalayan Pink Salt, but I must point out that Dr. Hall misinterprets its spectral analysis. The analysis states the amount of every naturally occurring element except the noble gases. The salt tested had “<.0001 ppm" of radium, polonium, and uranium. It may have had none at all of any of them.

    That amount, "<.0001 ppm," was the smallest amount stated in the analysis. The analysis does not show any element as completely absent because, as I'm sure Dr. Hall will appreciate, we have no way of determining whether an element is completely absent. In other words, the salt did not have any measurable amounts of radium, polonium, or uranium.

  27. Harriet Hall says:

    The claim was that it contained 84 trace elements. If they were relying on this analysis, they were claiming that the salt contains the ones listed as <.0001ppm.

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