Sodium

Salt and Its Cousin, Nitrates

With the recent study implicating a low-salt diet as the wrong way to go for heart health (low sodium actually increased the risk of heart disease while normal levels reduced same), it is time to take another look at salt’s cousin, nitrates and nitrites. This is a topic that has interested me ever since we perfected our Hot Piggety Dogs and Farm-tastic Franks. The State requires the addition of nitrates as a preservative, though we managed to limit the dose to as little as possible (which is why our weenies are so bland in color. The deeper the red color you see in grocery store dogs, the higher the content of nitrates. Ours are mild by comparison.)

Despite the low dose found in our only product containing preservatives, I am and always have been interested in understanding why nitrates have been implicated as a possibly deleterious preservative. The only correlation I have been able to find is as a possible contributor to colon cancer. The correlation, however, is very mild and inconclusive. I suspect the danger, if there is any, comes from eating too much food containing nitrates. Please let me know if you know of research otherwise.

“One that would have the fruit must climb the tree.”
— Thomas Fuller

So let’s start climbing with a couple of interesting studies. The one I found most interesting concluded that vitamin B-12 seemed to be an antidote for memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Subjects suffering from accelerating memory loss were found to first, arrest the losses and then improve cognitive function with the ingestion of B-12. Do you know what foods contain the highest amounts of B-12? Pretty much in this order of importance, they were: liver, beef, pork, turkey, fish, shellfish, dairy, eggs and chicken. How about that?! All natural suppliers of B-12 come from protein and fat sources.

The other study of interest this month, one which studied a lot of people over a long period of time, was the salt study. The finding: prescribing a low sodium diet for persons with or at high risk of heart disease actually exacerbated the chance of a fatal attack by 37%, Low sodium was worse than high sodium. But moderate amounts of salt per day, say 4 to 6 grams, improved one’s heart health. Sodium is an essential mineral for our good health. Don’t you love it - almost everything we have been told is bad for us is turning out to be good for us. Liver, beef, pork and salt are now on the list of good things to eat if in moderation. Wow! Isn’t it clear that we simply need to eat good, naturally-grown foods for good health and its many pleasures? Be a whole foods person. It’s a good thing.