The U.S. News & World Report recently evaluated and ranked 20 different diets based on the ease of the regimen, level of nutrition, safety, and their effectiveness for combating obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Topping their list is the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), followed by the Mediterranean diet.
What Makes the DASH Diet Successful?
The DASH diet, in many ways is similar to the Mediterranean diet, and has been found to be quite successful at both reducing hypertension and promoting weight loss at the same time. DASH promotes the consumption of vegetables, fruits, lean protein, whole grains, and low-fat dairy, and recommends avoiding sugars, red meat, and salt.
Many believe that the low sodium is responsible for its success. However, salt probably doesn’t have that much to do with it. I believe the primary reason why it works so well is because it restricts your intake of fructose—as does the Mediterranean diet. The idea that salt promotes high blood pressure is actually, at least in part, a myth.
In order to make heads or tails out of it, you must first understand that not all edible salts are created equal. One is health damaging, and the other is healing.
Salt—Essential or Harmful?
Ordinary table salt undergoes a great deal of processing. It is approximately 97.5 percent sodium chloride and 2.5 percent chemicals, such as iodine and moisture absorbents, dried at over 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. This high heat alters the natural chemical structure of the salt. By contrast, unrefined natural salt, such as Himalayan salt, is 84 percent sodium chloride and 16 percent other naturally occurring minerals, including many trace minerals like silicon, phosphorous and vanadium.
Ordinary table salt has absolutely nothing in common with unrefined natural salt. The latter is essential for proper biological function, while too much of the former can indeed create health problems.
Unrefined natural salt is important to many biological processes, including:
- Being a major component of your blood plasma, lymphatic fluid, extracellular fluid, and even amniotic fluid
- Carrying nutrients into and out of your cells
- Helping the lining of your blood vessels to regulate blood pressure
- Helping you regulate propagation of nerve impulses
- Helping your brain send communication signals to your muscles, so that you can move on demand (sodium-potassium ion exchange)