Some Salty Items

I'm cleaning out my "to be posted" folder, so here are a couple of articles on one of my favorite topics: salt.

It's Time to End the War on Salt

For decades, policy makers have tried and failed to get Americans to eat less salt. In April 2010 the Institute of Medicine urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate the amount of salt that food manufacturers put into products; New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has already convinced 16 companies to do so voluntarily. But if the U.S. does conquer salt, what will we gain? Bland french fries, for sure. But a healthy nation? Not necessarily

(link) [Scientitic American]

Salt, We Misjudged You

The first time I questioned the conventional wisdom on the nature of a healthy diet, I was in my salad days, almost 40 years ago, and the subject was salt. Researchers were claiming that salt supplementation was unnecessary after strenuous exercise, and this advice was being passed on by health reporters. All I knew was that I had played high school football in suburban Maryland, sweating profusely through double sessions in the swamplike 90-degree days of August. Without salt pills, I couldn’t make it through a two-hour practice; I couldn’t walk across the parking lot afterward without cramping.

(link) [New York Times]

21:33 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

Cutting back on salt: Does it help?

I've blogged a lot about this topic in the past, but given my recent cardiac experience it's taken on a whole new urgency of late. This aggregation seems to confirm what I'd come to conclude, but with a new twist: blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels rose on a restricted salt diet!

Maybe that'll get somebody's attention!

Anyone who’s tried to reduce the amount of sodium in their diet knows how hard it can be to lower levels down to the government’s recommended limit of 1,500 milligrams a day for whites 51 and older, all African Americans and others with certain chronic health conditions such as hypertension and chronic kidney disease.

(link) [Los Angles Times]

23:14 /Politics | 1 comment | permanent link

Eating less salt doesn't cut heart risks: study

Wait a second: you mean I might have been onto something all along?

People who ate lots of salt were not more likely to get high blood pressure, and were less likely to die of heart disease than those with a low salt intake, in a new European study.

(link) [Reuters]

18:34 /Politics | 2 comments | permanent link

Man fires at McDonald's window over breakfast menu

I wonder if he was Falling Down?

AP - Police said a customer fired one or two shots into a Salt Lake City McDonald's after the driver of the car he was in was told the restaurant was not serving lunch yet. Police said the female driver of a white Dodge Intrepid pulled up to the drive-thru and ordered from the lunch menu early Sunday but was told only breakfast was available.

(link) [Yahoo! News: Top Stories]

18:37 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

Consuming a little less salt could mean fewer deaths

Are we still trying to throw the book at salt? But wait: this was not a study of salt use at all:

These results were derived from a validated computer-simulation of heart disease among U.S. adults.

Where did the data used in this computer simulation come from?

For years, ample evidence has linked salt intake to high blood pressure and heart disease.

What evidence? I personally participated in a salt study in the 1980's that showed no evidence of any such thing! I've called bullshit on this before. And I'll keep calling it until they show me the data. But I must confess to being a bit puzzled: why on earth are these folks so obsessed over salt? Especially when so many studies have shown there's no real cause for alarm? What's the deal?

A moderate decrease in daily salt intake could benefit the US population and reduce the rates of heart disease and deaths. All segments of the US population would be expected to benefit, with the largest health benefits experienced by African Americans who are more likely to have hypertension and whose blood pressure may be more sensitive to salt.

(link) [EurekAlert!]

Update: This came across the wire this morning: salt is now an addictive drug!

Scientists suggest we add salt to our food, even though we know it is bad for us, because it is a natural antidepressant

(link) [BBC News]

08:34 /Politics | 1 comment | permanent link

Throwing the Book at Salt

I've blogged about the "salt obsession" before, but wasn't sure it was still on the radar. Apparently, I was wrong. The most telling item in this piece:

But public health officials say there is a strong consensus that salt leads to higher rates of heart attacks and strokes.

That consensus alarms Dr. Michael Alderman, editor in chief of the American Journal of Hypertension, who thinks more clinical studies need to be done. And, he says, wild swings in dietary regulation haven’t always worked out.

We've replaced science with political consensus ... which kinda explains a whole lot of what's wrong with this society, if you think about it.

The last two times Dr. Frieden stepped into the nutrition wars, he gave muscle to nationwide moves to ban trans fats and post calorie counts on restaurant menus. That means you could soon be hearing more about salt than you have in a long time.

(link) [New York Times]

14:09 /Politics | 1 comment | permanent link

Married couple ignores washing and haircutting for 16 years

The West has no monopoly on strange ...

They never wash their clothes. They wear the same apparel for a year until it becomes damp. Neither do they wash up. 10 years ago, after the market construction, their water pipe dried up. But they decided not to ask anyone to get it fixed. Instead they started to gather rainwater and use it for cooking and drinking. They say they get enough water, because they are very thrifty: they eat and drink once a day, sometimes even less frequently – once a couple of days, and with absolutely no salt.

(link) [Pravda]

06:24 /Humor | 0 comments | permanent link

Kimball County seizes $69,040 in traffic stop

If I randomly pulled over cars and seized any cash I found in them, they'd call it highway robbery. Why don't they call it that when it's the police doing the robbing?

Note: The entire article is reproduced below as these kind of newspaper items have a habit of disappearing, and this incident is so over the top as to demand preservation.

Christmas came early last year for a new Kimball County Sheriff's deputy.

Deputy Chris Engel, 25, had been on the job just two weeks when a routine traffic stop Dec. 20 turned into the biggest cash seizure the Nebraska county has ever seen.

Engel pulled over a Salt Lake City, Utah, resident whom he suspected of speeding on Interstate 80 near the town of Kimball.

The driver's story didn't add up, Engel said, so he did a little more investigating. In the end, $69,040 in cash was taken from the car. Officials suspect the money is connected to a drug-trafficking operation, he said.

The driver was not arrested — or even ticketed for going 10 mph over the 75 mph speed limit. (He was warned.) But the investigation is ongoing, Engel said. The Nebraska State Patrol and the Drug Enforcement Agency are assisting in the investigation.

It was the first big cash seizure Kimball County has seen, said Sheriff Tim Hanson. With Interstate 80 running through the Panhandle county, he believes there are ample opportunities to make a dent in drug operations. But in such a sparsely populated county with few resources, it has been difficult to devote deputies' time to patrolling the Interstate, he said.

"Chris is a very aggressive young deputy," Hanson said.

Investigators don't know if they will be able to connect the money to a drug operation, Hanson said, but the important work already has been done.

"The big thing is he grabbed 69 (thousand dollars) and took it away from them," Hanson said of the money seized. "That's going right straight to the heart of the matter."

(link) [Omaha World-Herald]

07:42 /Politics | 4 comments | permanent link

The Great Cholesterol Myth

Seems as though cholesterol may be following salt.

Scientific hypotheses don’t get much simpler than this: the cholesterol, or diet-heart, hypothesis, which has broken free from the ivory towers of academia to impact with massive force on society.

(link) [Spiked]

08:57 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

Despite popular belief, the world is not running out of oil, UW scientist says

Ya know, I'm not a geologist, but I have got a brain, and I think it's pretty safe to say that is nonsense.

"The most common question I get is, 'When are we going to run out of oil.' The correct response is, 'Never,'" said Eric Cheney. "It might be a heck of a lot more expensive than it is now, but there will always be some oil available at a price, perhaps $10 to $100 a gallon."

"Never" is a long time, you idiot.

The Earth is not making more oil or natural gas or coal. Those are products of biological processes, and it no longer has the correct ecosystem to create them. Given that the Earth is a finite body, there's a finite amount of oil available for extraction at any price - and a lesser amount available for extraction at an economic price people are willing to pay.

Furthermore, those mineral resources that are not products of biological processes were all present in the Earth at it's formation - they're not just generated willy-nilly on planets, they're made from the lighter elements in the nuclear furnaces we call stars. So unless he's discovered a hidden fusion engine that creates new gold, iron, silver and other minerals deep in the Earth, we're going to be running out of those as well.

We will run out of oil. And other mineral resources. All of them, That's not geology, nor is it the whining shill of a oil company hack - it's simple common sense. The only real question is when.

The foremost myth about resource geology is that the world is running out of oil, a University of Washington geologist says, and he wants to dispel that and other false notions about mineral resources.

(link) [EurekAlert!]

13:58 /Technology | 4 comments | permanent link

Modified Foods to Die For

Pretty funny, but she gets persimmons all wrong. No need to genetically modify them: they taste great if picked and prepared correctly. I suspect that she's been eating Asian persimmons, the really large (fist sized) variety that you run across on the produce counter in upscale grocery stores. If that's the case, I'd agree with her, although I'd suggest the modification be simply to stop buying them!

American PersimmonTo the left is an American Persimmon - about two or three inches in diameter (max) and very common from Virginia through Tennessee, Kentucky and southern Indiana. And delicious. There are whole festivals in this area of the country devoted to the lowly persimmon.

American Persimmons are an astringent type, and cannot be eaten until becoming custard-soft by an after-ripening of exposure to light and frost for a few days. Hence the rule: you can't pick persimmons until after Jack Frost's first visit. And picking isn't really the right word - most of the fruit will have fallen to the ground by this time, and it's perfectly OK to harvest them. Before being used the persimmons are pulped - the skin and seeds are removed by straining through a sieve or colander. You end up with an orange goo the consistency of sour cream.

You can then use the pulp to create the most delicious pudding imaginable:

Auntie's Persimmon Pudding

2 cups persimmon pulp        2 cups sugar
2 eggs, well beaten          1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 1/4 cups evaporated milk   1 tsp soda
1 3/4 cups flour             2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon               1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup cooking oil            pinch of salt

preheat oven to 325 degrees
combine pulp, sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl
stir soda into buttermilk and add to mixture
all all other ingredients, saving cooking oil for last
mix well
bake in a buttered 9x13 pan for 1 hour

If you can find real persimmons you owe it to yourself to try this during the coming holiday season. It's a tradition around here to make a batch for Thanksgiving and another for Yule. It just wouldn't be the holidays without persimmon pudding.

GMOs deserve a makeover -- If we're going to be tinkering with the very building blocks of life, I expect to be seriously entertained. Here are my suggestions for modified foods that would make it worth playing God. Commentary by Lore Sjöberg.

(link) [Wired News: Top Stories]

17:54 /Agriculture | 0 comments | permanent link

Americans should shake salty food habit

I'm calling Bullshit!

And I'm not alone ... Stossel's report highlights the many studies showing absolutely no correlation between salt intake and high blood pressure or heart disease. And I must regale you with a personal tale at this point - because I have a bit of a dog in this fight.

I say a bit of a dog because, while I have no economic interest in salt whatsoever, I was a participant in a salt study. It was conducted in 1982, at IU Hospital in Indianapolis. And it was pretty comprehensive.

Our salt "input/output" was measured for three weeks, while the hospital varied the amount of sale in our diets. The measured the salt in our blood, and we carried plastic liter bottles which we used for urination 24 hours a day. Every meal was taken at the hospital. I was selected because I have "naturally" high blood pressure, others in the study had naturally low and normal blood pressures. There were over a thousand participants, if I recall correctly, of all races and from all walks of life.

The food was miserable, too. The first week was a no salt diet. Miserable doesn't describe this. The second week was a "normal" salt diet, and was by far the best of the bunch. The third week had so much salt in the diet that they gave us glasses of veggie juice to help wash it down. I was peeing over nine liters a day that week, and had to carry the bottles in buckets.

A year later the results were released - unfortunately they're not on the web - but they showed no relationship whatsoever between blood pressure (which we had measured before and after every meal) and salt intake.

In fact, the Salt Institute, who admittedly do have a real dog in this fight, have a link page on their site with eight studies showing no relationship between salt and hypertension.

I'm not a big fan of iodized, industrial salt: I think it lacks many of the trace minerals that are most easily delivered in salt, and I eat kosher or sea salt myself, but nonetheless I find the evidence clear and compelling that there is no link between salt and high blood pressure. None at all.

So why do we keep seeing articles like this? Stossel's observation seems most likely:

Scientific communication is very stilted, as if to convey impartiality. Scientists are happy to have non-scientists view them as uniquely unbiased, and reporters fall into the trap of believing them. But supposedly "dispassionate" scientists are as passionate about their ideas as any entrepreneur. They have all sorts of reasons to lose perspective and get carried away with hope and excitement. If they discover something, they may be famous. If they don't, they may have spent years in some windowless laboratory for little good. So if they can convince themselves their theory is right, they are eager for the public to hear about it.

This whole phenomena is the reason I was skeptical on global warming for so long: but I've reviewed the evidence myself, and rather carefully, and now think there's a good deal to the theory. Salt intake, on the other hand, is politically correct "science" run amok. Which is why this article is posted to my "Politics" section - because that's all it is...take it with a grain of salt!

AP - When it comes to seasoning food, there's no shortage of salt options. But when it comes to health, it doesn't matter if it was mined in Kansas, solar-evaporated from the Mediterranean Sea or hand-harvested in French marshes. Salt is salt, the experts say, and it's bad for your health. Chances are you're eating way too much of it.

(link) [Yahoo! News: Top Stories]

11:47 /Politics | 7 comments | permanent link

Creamy, Healthier Ice Cream? What’s the Catch?

Ya know, there's something seriously wrong with folks that think this is a good thing:

Almost all commercial ice creams contain industrial ingredients that mimic the luxurious effects of butterfat and egg yolks: some are natural, like carrageenan, extracted from algae plentiful in the Irish Sea; others are synthetic, like mono- and diglycerides.

They want a creamy texture but they don't want to use cream. They want a rich flavor, but they don't want to use eggs. Some of the motivation for this travesty has to do with the "low fat = must be good for you" myth, but a lot of it has to do with the bottom line. But the latest in ice cream technology is a real mind-bender: genetically engineered protein from fish, grown by yeast, to stop ice crystals from forming:

The other new method for making supercreamy ice cream was caught up last month in the global debate over genetically modified foods. In June, Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch conglomerate, applied to Britain’s Food Standards Agency for permission to use a new ingredient in its frozen desserts — a protein cloned from the blood of an eel-like Arctic Ocean fish, the ocean pout.

In Britain, where labeling of GM food is mandated, this has already come to be called "vaneela" ... but in the US, well, was there something fishy about your last ice cream cone? You'd never know - labeling is not required.

But the statement that really gets me here is from H. Douglas Goff, professor of dairy sciences at the University of Guelph in Ontario:

“The ice creams produced with the new methods are simply better than any ice creams have ever been,” Professor Goff said. "Quite definitely better in texture, and much better tasting."

I just don't believe that. I've (unwittingly) tried a product made with this (Breyers Light Double Churned Ice Cream Bars) and I thought they sucked. So I'd like to issue a personal invitation to Professor Goff to stop by the farm on a warm summer day. We'll run over to Kevyn's if he's still milking Cherry (or out to the barn if we have a cow in milk) and get a gallon or two of fresh milk. Then we'll hit the hen house for some fresh eggs, pull out the ice cream maker, some kosher rock salt, a bit of vanilla and some ice and crank away for an hour or so.

And if he can tell me with a straight face that his "vaneela" ice cream tastes better, I'll become a believer in better living through playing god genetic engineering.

For those who crave ice cream as voluptuous as butter and as virtuous as broccoli, there is fresh hope in the freezer case.

(link) [New York Times]

09:17 /Agriculture | 3 comments | permanent link

Pass the salt

This isn't a Study in Stupidity - it's studied lying.

There is no correlation between sodium intake and blood pressure or cardiovascular disease in the general population.

I have some personal experience in this area, as I was involved in a salt study at Indiana University several years ago. The results: varying intake of sodium had absolutely no effect on the blood pressure of any of the study participants in any meaningful way.

If all of this hasn't convinced you, here's another link to some of the bullshit surrounding salt intake. The only thing I haven't really figured out yet is why these folks persist in this: they managed to reverse themselves on trans-fatty acids, why can't they admit they were wrong on salt?

If you are trying to avoid salt, you can't trust your taste buds. That's the message from a new report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which is trying to refocus attention on the dangers of salt hidden in packaged and restaurant food.

(link) [U.S. News & World Report]

00:00 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

Hoosier Heathen Chicken Livers

In looking over the archives the other day, I realized that I'd never published my favorite recipe. You can tell a lot about a person by the food they eat, so, without further ado, I offer this contribution to the culinary arts, a dish guaranteed to keep cardiologists in full employment ...

  • 1 lb. chicken livers
  • 1 can Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup
  • flour
  • lard, bacon drippings or shortening
  • salt and pepper

Clean the livers (sometimes sold packaged with hearts as well - that's OK) by running icy water over them until the water runs clean (no blood). Cut or tear each liver in half - easy, as they're almost there anyway.

Roll the livers in flour and fry'em up in a large pan (I use a big paella pan). Be sure to use lard, bacon drippings or shortening and not vegetable or olive oil. Those make the livers very bitter for some reason. Be sure to turn the livers when crispy on one side, and then keep them covered until done (about ten minutes).

When the livers are completely fried, dump the can of soup over them and add about a quarter of the can full of water. You can drain the fat off first if there's too much, but be sure to leave some - mix the soup and water mixture into the livers and pan drippings. It'll form a rich gravy.

Salt and pepper to taste and serve over rice (my favorite) or egg noodles. This make a single serving for me, but if you're normal you could probably serve three or four with this quantity.

Make an appointment for a cholesterol check ...

00:00 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link