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You are the salt of the earth, and it’s good for you and the world


Study says salt is good for you. Image Peter Nijenhuis / Foter / Creative Commons

Study says salt is good for you. Image Peter Nijenhuis / Foter / Creative Commons

Two papers published by Canadian researchers in the New England Journal of Medicine say we have it wrong when it comes to salt. The general view is the less salt we consume the better.  While Canadians consume on average 3.5 to 4 grams of salt per day, Health Canada has been pushing to reduce daily consumption to 2.3 grams daily and even suggested 1.5 grams was a good goal.

Other groups such as Hyptertension Canada have suggested a daily consumption rate of 2.o grams, this was an upgrade of its earlier recommendation of consuming 1.3 grams to 1.5 grams of salt daily.

The push for lower salt consumption is based on the notion that it will reduce cardiovascular problems.

The two recent articles challenging this notion were part of the Prospective Urban Rural (PURE) study led by cardiologist Dr. Salim Yusuf and researchers from Canada’s McMaster University. PURE tracked salt consumption in 100,000 people in eight countries and any cardiovascular problems they experienced, including high blood pressure and strokes.

One of the two papers published in August 2014, concluded that consuming over five grams a salt daily, particularly for those people suffering from cardiovascular problems, can lead to increased heart risk such as higher blood pressure.

However, the second study based on PURE’s research put the range slightly higher noticing an increased cardiovascular risk for those consuming more than five to six grams of salt a day. But it is the other conclusions from this second article that is catching everyone’s attention. It noted that those who consumed between three to five grams of salt daily saw their cardiovascular risk lowered and those who consumed less that three grams a day actually saw their cardiovascular risk increase.

The lead author for the second paper was Martin O’Donnell. He is an associate professor at both McMaster University and the National University of Ireland based in Galway, Ireland. He wrote that lowering salt consumption below three grams daily resulted in increased hormonal production that in turn increased the risk of cardiovascular problems.

Because of the large number of people involved in this study, the results are catching people’s attention. This was the largest study that tracked salt consumption with cardiovascular problems.  Previous studies involving smaller groups of people have produced similar results showing that too low of a salt intake actually increases cardiovascular risk.

These results question the popular notion that salt is unhealthy.

You are the salt of the earth

I always found it a bit odd, that Jesus told his disciples they were the salt of the world (Matthew 5:13) and meanwhile the world was blaming salt for serious cardiovascular problems and pushing for lower and lower consumption rates.

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” (Matthew 5:31 NASV)

In Mark 9:50, Jesus goes a step further and says “salt is good.” So it is nice to see salt being redeemed.

Salt played an important role in Bible society. Since there was no refrigeration, it was used to preserve food particularly meat. Without this preservative, it would quickly rot in the hot desert climate. Salt was also used, as it is today, to enhance the taste of food. These two uses is undoubtedly what Jesus was referring to when He told his disciples that they were the salt of the world.

A few Christians not only have a preservative effect on society but can also enhance taste and life.

But Jesus also warned that salt can lose its saltness and its beneficial effects lost. So what can cause salt to lose its saltness?

In Mark 9:50, Jesus says:

“Salt is good; but if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

Here Jesus says that the lack of peace or broken relationships between believers can cause Christians to lose their saltiness. We need to forgive one another and make things right. Failure to resolve conflicts will render us unsalty and result in our influence being discarded by society because it has no use either as soil or even manure (Luke 9:34-35).

 

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