Doctors usually advise people with high blood pressure to reduce their intake of sodium or salt (since salt is high in sodium). Yet restricting salt intake seldom works. Some studies found that, on average, a low-salt diet reduces blood pressure by at most one or two points.
Experience shows, however, that for reducing blood pressure, the best results are obstained from (not necessarily in order of effectiveness):
Potassium in unrefined natural sea salt
Salt is always cooked together with food (ideally for at least 10 minutes), or used in the form of salty seasonings or condiments (that are produced over long periods). Salt is never added directly to food after cooking. The thinking here is that long cooking, pickling or fermentation causes salt molecules to chelate or combine with food molecules, so that the salt is not taken directly.
Salt is seldom viewed as one of the foods with potassium. Yet one of the key differences between natural sea salt vs table salt is that natural sea salt contains potassium. It does not contain a lot. Natural sea salt has only about 4 percent potassium chloride. It is mainly sodium chloride (about 95 percent) plus the remaining one percent made up of 50 to 80 other minerals.
Because the amount of potassium is small, most nutritionists and doctors dismiss it. But who are they to say that 4 percent of potassium chloride is not important? After all, the medical profession is able to recognise that iodine, which makes up 0.002 percent or less of iodized salt plays a vital role in health. So why dismiss the importance of potassium, which makes up 4 percent?
As mentioned in another article about salt and high blood pressure, followers of the macrobiotic diet - who take natural sea salt - generally have healthy blood pressure levels about 10 points below the national average. Likewise, people in lesser developed societies who do not take refined or processed salts also do not suffer from high blood pressure.
Artificial foods with potassium
The medical profession does recognise the importance of foods with potassium. But what do doctors do? Firstly, they declare that there is no difference between natural sea salt and refined salt. Then, when they discover that there is actually a difference, do they recommend natural sea salt? No! They create their own special high potassium salts to make up for the lack of potassium.
One of these is Pansalt®, which was developed by a Finnish doctor / scientist, Prof Dr Heikki Karppanen. He formulated the product in his personal battle against high blood pressure and also to help fellow Finnish citizens, who have one of the highest incidences of high blood pressure in the world.
The main differences between natural sea salt, refined salt, table salt and Pansalt® are as follows:
|Natural sea salt||95% sodium chloride
4% potassium chloride
1% other mineral salts (50 to 80 minerals)
|Refined salt||99.9% sodium chloride|
|Table salt||97.5% sodium chloride
2.5% anti-caking agents
|Pansalt®||56% sodium chloride,
28% potassium chloride,
12% magnesium sulphate,
2% lysine hydrochloride
2% silicon dioxide
From the table, you can see that products like Pansalt® are really artificial foods with potassium.
It is true that Pansalt® has been scientifically proven to be effective in lowering high blood pressure. Other similar salts have also proven effective. In a study involving 2,000 elderly people, Taiwanese researchers reported in 2006 that potassium enriched salts helped reduced their blood pressure (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. June 2006).
But are these products "salt"? To me, no. Not when their contents are so drastically different from that of natural sea salt. And not when the Pansalt® website assures that it is manufactured in conditions "equal to that for the manufacture of pharmaceutical drugs".
To me, such products are more like drugs than salt or other natural foods with potassium. It is still a highly refined product, with just six ingredients, one of which is a chemical additive.
Salt is supposed to be a food suitable for EVERYONE. Yet the manufacturers of PanSalt® caution that certain groups of people should consult their doctors before using Pansalt™. These include people on anti-hypertensive, diuretics and diabetes medication, as well as kidney-impaired patients. Such warnings are necessary because too much potassium can be harmful, causing diarrhoa and overall weakness.
It is not that foods with potassium are "good" while foods with sodium are "bad". Balance is the key. And if you understand yin and yang, you will appreciate the importance of balance even more. Click here for an article about yin and yang and the sodium-potassium balance.
The macrobiotic understanding of yin and yang tells us that natural sea salt is a yang product - which is strengthening to the body. Sodium, the main component of natural sea salt, is a yang element. Refining salt to make it almost pure sodium chloride makes it too yang. However, adding plenty of potassium, which is a yin element, makes the salt too yin. This is why high potassium salts are weakening.
Without this understanding, medical science creates a product with excessive potassium. Why not just use natural sea salt? Not enough potassium there? How about encouraging people to eat more vegetables, fruits and other foods with potassium? Isn't that better advice?
The Taiwanese researchers, at least, acknowledge this. Despite the success of their potassium-enriched salt, they remark that a better way to deal with high blood pressure is to eat plenty of vegetables, which are foods containing potassium.
Ideally, those vegetables should be cooked with natural sea salt!
Click here to learn more about the nutrition of sea salt as one of the foods with potassium, iodine and other minerals.
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