Experts Dispute How Much Salt Is Too Much

An intellectual a-salt on federal dietary guidelines.

Image via Flickr user Dubravko Sorić

A modest Chipotle burrito contains around 2,000 milligrams of sodium. But if you live life to the fullest like I do, the sodium content of a Chipotle burrito can easily top 2,700 milligrams—or 117 percent of the daily intake suggested by current federal standards.

Federal dietary guidelines for sodium intake recommend consuming 2,300 milligrams per day, equal to just one teaspoon of salt. But now, an increasing number of scientists are saying that the government’s stance is unfounded and unnecessarily frightening.

According to the Washington Post:

“The current [salt] guidelines are based on almost nothing,” said Suzanne Oparil, a distinguished professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a former president of the American Heart Association. “Some people really want to hang onto this belief system on salt. But they are ignoring the evidence.”

Shaky as the foundation for current recommendations may be, one area that most scientists can agree on is that excessive salt intake can be harmful, often leading to increased blood pressure and risk of heart disease.

The definition of excessive is where the consensus falls apart, however. While the average American’s sodium intake lies somewhere around 3,400 milligrams per day, studies from as recently as August contend that the word “excessive” should only be used to define daily intakes above 6,000 milligrams.

One research effort, the PURE study, followed more than 150,000 subjects over the course of six years and was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Its findings suggested that the optimal sodium intake for those younger than 55 without high blood pressure actually lies around 3,000 to 6,000 milligrams. Most interestingly, it contended that those who abide by the federally recommended limit of 2,300 milligrams are actually at higher risk for heart complications. Researchers cited studies finding that a low sodium intake could stimulate the production of an enzyme called renin, causing blood vessels to constrict, and leading to higher blood pressure.

On both sides of the great salt debate, experts are butting heads. Elliott Antman, current president of the American Heart Association, chose to hold his ground, telling the Washington Post, “The totality of the evidence strongly suggests that Americans should be lowering their sodium intake,” and, “Everyone agrees that current sodium intake is too high.”

The dispute may persist for a while, as dietary studies on humans are notoriously difficult to conduct due to an innumerable array of variables stemming from personal urges and habits.

If there’s one thing to take away from this for now, it’s that until more concrete evidence is discovered, we have one less reason to feel guilty about scarfing down that fat burrito.

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Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

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Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

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In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


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So, shouldn't the people who manufacture guns share some responsibility when they are used for the purpose they're made: killing people? Especially when the manufacturers market the weapon for that exact purpose?

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