Doctor's Note

Check out this video on another health risk of sodium:
Can Diet Protect Against Kidney Cancer?

And here's a video on changing our taste buds to enjoy a reduced-sodium diet:
Changing Our Taste Buds

For more context, see my associated blog posts: Do Eden Beans Have Too Much Iodine? and Uric Acid From Meat and Sugar.

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  • Veguyan

    I dont’ know how to make food taste good without sea-salt. A bowl of soba or rice or even oatmeal just taste bland without salt. Soba with garlic and chili still needs salt to bring it to life. What to do?

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Darned taste buds! Turns out that you can train them to accept a lower level of sodium. I know everything now tastes like cardboard without added salt, but give it 2-3 weeks. That’s all it takes to retrain you buds. It’s like magic. I know you may not believe me now, but if you actually stick through those few weeks then once your nerves reset, adding any salt at all will make you grimace because it makes things too salty. Please give it a try for a few weeks and let me know how it goes.

      • James Wald

        I was already vegetarian for a few years but I decided that I was ready for the final step and dropped dairy, eggs, cooking oils, and salt. That week was hilariously bland, seriously, laugh at it while you can. Your taste will quickly return after this period. Science!

      • Joel Santos

        Hi Dr greger. What do you think about Dr. McDougall’s advice that we should feel free to add as much salt as we want but just eat a whole food starch based diet? Thanks!

    • DrBarbaraHoldeman

      One of the reasons I don’t eat much cooked food is because whole food starches really have no or little flavor on their own and so you end up dowsing them in salt or slathering them in some sort of fat… I eat mostly fruits and veggies and a minimal amount of nuts and seeds.. no added sodium needed =)

      • Toxins

        A great way to overcome this is to add lots of herbs and spices. For example, when I am eating brown rice, I dont eat brown rice with plain cooked veggies. I will add to the veggies lots of herbs, garlic and onions, perhaps some balsamic. You can make a variety of dishes this way if you flavor the veggies to put on the rice.

      • I make rice/bean/corn tacos with salsa, mashed potatoes and no fat gravy (low sodium vegetable broth or white bean sauce), cajun sweet potato fries with low sodium ketchup the list goes on and on. I also love fruits and vegetables.

    • Wegan

      Sorry, I’m not convinced:

      Dietary sodium loading in normotensive healthy volunteers does not increase arterial vascular reactivity or blood pressure.

      • Wegan

        My take on these conflicting studies is that if you’re overweight you absorb the salt. If not you pee it out.

  • maybush1

    I have to say that it absolutely does work. Going off, or very much reducing, salt intake brings the taste buds back to life after a couple of weeks (it seemed to take me just a few days). The foods will definitely begin bursting with flavor again. You won’t believe it until it’s tried.

  • Toxins

    Its true, I find salty foods un edible now.

  • i was off salt for months last year (sometimes just a bit of sea salt), and i hated it the whole time. my taste buds did not retrain. eating was lame. when i started using salt again i could actually enjoy food.
    my name is ioana and i am a salt addict.

    • Chelsea

      Ioana, I love salt too! I was actually surprised how easy it was to keep below 1500mg just by eating fruits and vegetables that taste delicious raw, and then sneaking in my salt at dinner. Give it a shot!

    • Vallis

      I don’t love salt as much as salt loves me. My brain is programmed that certain things must be part of my cooking and eating olive oil and salt are two. My brain is in the drivers seat as far as these two things are concerned. So I am being sneaky and just reducing the amount of salt i ad a bit at a time. So far so good but just cutting it out would be harsh for me, and my brain would just kick back hard!

    • Johanna Nilsson

      I read that 1500 mg of sodium is equivalent to about 3/4 teaspoons or 3.75 grams of salt per day. It can be easy to mistake the video and think that we can have a maximum of 1500 mg of salt/day, when in fact it is exclusively about sodium….

  • psychwoman1

    Ok this might be a stupid question, but here goes. Is there a difference between regular table salt and sea salt, as far as one being better for you-or less bad for you, than the other? I have heard both ways, so I thought I would ask you.

    • Toxins

      Well, since our food these days is lacking in iodine, I would say iodized table salt is a better option then sea salt. Check out Dr. Greger’s video on Iodine

    • Chelsea

      Hey, psychwoman1! You are not asking a stupid question; there are many varieties of salt that exist beyond table salt and sea salt. As a connoisseur of salt (I have over 8 types in my house right now…and no table salt), I would be glad to explain the difference. Table salt is refined and mostly just plain ol’ sodium chloride, with some anti-caking agents thrown in. Iodine is one additive typically in table salt. Sea salt is just your evaporated sea water, which will vary depending on where it’s from in the refining, additive, and mineral content. The really good stuff is unrefined salt. These are the only types of salt that I have, and they each contain a variety of minerals that give a unique flavor to the salt. Just as the name implies, they are unrefined. Some sea salts can be unrefined as well; I think I have grey sea salt and fleur de sel which are both fantastic and unrefined. I urge you to branch out from table salt, but keep an eye on your iodine levels if you do! And check out this other video on salt:

      • psychwoman1


        I already am a lover of ‘alternate’ salts :) My fav is pink Himalayan Sea Salt. I just was curious if it was actually less bad for you than regular ‘ol table salt, since it is less or not at all refined. I’m glad I’m not the only one who loves salt! :) I am going to try harder to reduce my salt usage, but I think I’ll stick with my Pink sea salt, and may look for the salts you mention too.

        • sf_jeff

          If like most Americans you are in a zone where less salt would be a healthier change than more sodium, substituting potassium chloride for some of your sodium chloride can help. One of the reasons salt is bad is it can cause potassium deficiency because sodium and potassium uptake are antagonistic.

          At least that is the version I heard.

          • Wilma Laura Wiggins

            Really …that is very interesting. I wish you could have added a “study” or two.

          • There is a difference between taking potassium supplements and replacing part of your sodium with potassium. Google says RDI of Potassium is 3500 mg vs 2400 sodium, so I am sure that there are some dosage dependencies.

            All I found was this.

            Interesting that this source mentions 4700mg a day minimum.

            I agree that it would be nice to get confirmation on the uptake antagonism.

          • Wilma Laura Wiggins

            Actually I asked about the salt substitutes you can buy that I believe contain the potassium.

            She then replied If you want to kill yourself. I do only have one kidney so I wonder if that had a bearing – guess I should have asked.

          • sf_jeff

            That’s probably why.


            Apparently if you have kidney issues you should try to limit sodium, potassium, and phosphorous. I don’t know if “kidney disease” should be treated the same as “only one kidney”, though.

  • Vallis

    Would it be your point of view that salt water would be injected into all or most chicken found in supermarket?? How about organic Chicken?

    • Toxins

      Most of the conventional chicken is injected with saline solution and you can read how much of the weight is of this salt water on the packaging. As for organic, it is not injected but that doesn’t mean organic chicken is healthy.

      • Vallis

        Thank-you Toxins. I personally do not eat animal “products”‘; but I was asking on behalf of the rest of my tribe that does.

  • VeganNutritionist

    Something to consider with those who eat a diet of mostly fruits and vegetables and who work out a great deal. If you are sweating a lot and eat foods with insufficient sodium, you can develop hyponatremia or low blood sodium. You may feel ill, fatigued, loss of appetite, headache, confusion, vomiting, etc. I experienced this last year for the first time, and it was quite difficult for me to figure out.

    I was eating a high raw all fruits and vegetable diet, and couldn’t even get out of bed in the morning. I thought I caught a bug or had Lyme disease. It wasn’t until a threw a little salt on my popcorn one evening did I realize what it was. I felt much better in a very short amount of time.

    Moral of the story is that salt is still an essential mineral and you can develop a deficiency.

    • Toxins

      Indeed, salt is necessary for health. Here is a quote from Jeff Novick on sodium and sweat loss.

      “Endurance athletes who work out in high temperatures who are adapted to a high sodium diet can lose sodium though their sweat.

      However, when one adapts to a low sodium diet, which can take about a week or so, they will lose much less sodium through their sweat and this will not be an issue.”

      • DanielFaster

        Well, having finished a 4 hr bike ride at 100 F in the back of an ambulance with hyponatremia I can personally attest that insufficient salt can present an acute situation. It can be da ngerous to try to go without salt loading with insufficient salt/hydration skills. What seems to work is not drinking so much, instead pouring freshwater over my head, which reduces sweating and cools you off. Still I put a bit of salt in my water and if I’m going for a really long ride in the heat I will drink a glass of water with a gram of salt in it before heading out and may drink a v8 (I know) at the rest stop.

        • sf_jeff

          What’s wrong with V8? I know it has way too much salt, but if you actually want the salt, then why not?

  • VeganNutritionist

    I have been eating high raw for 4 years now, so his theory doesn’t apparently work for all people.

    • Toxins

      Perhaps the issue of eating purely raw has a role in this, since a raw food diet has many drawbacks to a conventional whole foods plant based diet with cooking.

  • VeganNutritionist

    A raw diet has drawbacks? Ok, I’ll bite. What is your argument?

  • VeganNutritionist

    You haven’t shown any drawbacks of a raw food diet. You only showed me a couple videos that talked about nutrient absorption. Too many people (yes, even doctors) have fallen into the myth that more of a nutrient is always better. This has been proven to be a fallacy. Many times, too much of a single nutrient can be harmful.

    In addition, there are tens of thousands of nutrients in raw foods. A good percentage of those nutrients are destroyed during cooking. We haven’t even identified all the nutrients in raw plant-foods, so we can’t even know exactly how many or which ones are destroyed and how they impact the health of the consumer.

    If we are to eat like our ancestors and primate relatives, if would be all raw food.

    Show me an epidemiological study showing that raw foodists suffer health consequences from these drawbacks. Otherwise, they aren’t drawbacks at all.

    • Toxins

      What we absorb is a key indicator of how healthy we are. The fact that it was found that raw foodists have equivalent levels of several antioxidants to that of a standard American diet shows its clear ineffectiveness.

      You are using the same faulty logic of the paleolithic diet. Are you really going to idolize our ancestors who lived till they were 30-40 years old? As of right now, there are no long term studies on raw foodists, nor is their evidence to support this diet. It is simply a theory. Cooking can be viewed as pre digestion, it is not toxic nor is it harmful. If one grills something that is a different story, but gently cooking food provides no issue.

      “Pre digesting” food allows us to consume more of it keeping us full for longer periods of time and allows us to absorb more nutrients. Complex carbohydrates, such as beans and sweet potatoes depend on being cooked to be consumed.

      It doesn’t matter how our ancestors ate, it matters what the science tells us now. I see no reason to jump on to the raw food bandwagon since this diet is unsupported by any scientific evidence. If you can present some valid studies showing how a raw food diet is healthier compared to a conventional whole food plant based diet then please do so. The burden of proof is on you.

  • VeganNutritionist

    Don’t turn this around on me. You are the one who said raw food diets have a drawback. You haven’t shown me any proof. I never said that cooked food diets have a drawback, nor did I said everyone needs to eat a raw food diet. The burden of proof is on you to support your “drawbacks”.

    You claim “The fact that it was found that raw foodists have equivalent levels of several antioxidants to that of a standard American diet shows its clear ineffectiveness.”

    What is your reference that shows these lower levels of anti-oxidants. And what is your reference to show that cooked food vegans showed a higher level.

  • VeganNutritionist

    Where is my proof of what? I am not trying to prove anything. You are trying to show me that a raw food diet has drawbacks. I am asking YOU to provide evidence to your claim. The studies to which you linked do not offer any epidemiological studies that suggest raw food diets have any drawbacks. Simply because cooking certain foods increases the absorption of some nutrients does not mean that eating them raw has a drawback. And having lower levels of a certain nutrient does not mean you are deficient. Deficient is defined as showing symptoms. So, unless you can show that eating a raw food diet creates a deficiency, I would say your comment that raw food diets have a drawback is moot.

    More is not always better. Sometimes it is simply just more.

    • Toxins

      Antioxidant markers are an indicator of how healthy one is, what I am saying is that raw foodists have very similar markers to those on a standard American diet, which is lacking in antioxidants. Therefore one can conclude that a raw food diet doesn’t allow an adequate amount of nutrients to be absorbed despite the high intake of fruits and vegetables.

  • VeganNutritionist

    You are making conclusions based on an extremely limited amount of information. You are making HUGE assumptions and not using sound scientific analysis. The level of assumption on your part is equivalent to saying “Hey, I know a guy who eats his boogers everyday and he is 100 years old, so if you eat your boogers, you will live to be 100 too!”

    There are THOUSANDS of anti-oxidants and you are basing a conclusion on two studies showing two anti-oxidants. Raw food diets may provide much higher anti-oxidant levels of many of the thousands of other anti-oxidants, but there are no studies to show one way or the other, so again, your conclusion is based on opinion, not science.

    There is NOTHING that shows anti-oxidant levels are an indicator of health. Have you considered the possibility that the raw food diet enables those anti-oxidants to react to free-radicals much quicker than a cooked food diet, and the reason the levels are lower is because they are being used at a quicker rate? I am not saying that is what is happening, but just one of dozens of possible scenarios. This is why you have to look at studies objectively and actively seek reasons why certain results may be suspect or even completely void.

    You simply cannot make sound conclusions based on a few studies. You have to read hundreds or even thousands of studies on the matter. And studies focused on health markers provide significantly less valuable information than epidemiological studies. Dr. T Colin Campbell conducted the largest epidemiological project in history and he concludes that the more raw foods you consume, the better.

    Now, would you like to withdraw your statement that raw food diets have drawbacks? Or are you going to show me epidemiological evidence?

    • Toxins

      What I am saying is that a raw food diet is unnecessary for a healthful diet and requires a lot more eating to acquire sufficient nutrients and satisfy energy needs. That is the draw back I have been addressing.

  • VeganNutritionist

    AGAIN, you have zero documentation that a raw food diet requires more eating to get the same nutrients than a cooked diet. You are focused on two studies that address two nutrients out of tens of thousands.

    Energy needs or energy wants? Because we are living in the culture that consumes much more energy than it needs. Reducing the calories available to someone in Western cultures can only be considered beneficial. The less calories absorbed, the less diseases, the slower they age, and the longer they live.

    Do you, do you not have any epidemiological evidence that eating a raw food diet has any drawbacks? If not, then simply withdraw your statement.

    • Toxins

      I don’t need a study to prove my simple point. Lets look at calorie density. Lets assume a 2,000 calorie diet consisting of fruits, vegetables and nuts (since complex carbohydrates require cooking unless sprouted)

      To achieve this you would need to eat about 6 bananas, 20 cups of chopped kale, and a cup cup of almonds (which is around 70 grams of fat, 100% of our daily value.) And all these foods would fill u up quickly (except the almonds) but not keep u full very long at all.

      Those ratios could be changed around however, it would still be quite an inefficient diet…especially with all that kale if u chose to gets your calories from this nutrient dense green.

      If we had cooked food on the other hand, we would need only 1 cup of dry rice, 2 cups of oats and 3 medium sweet potatoes (excluding all other fruits and vegetables from the diet). This food not only keeps us full long, but it is nutritious and satisfies our energy needs.

    • maybush1

      VeganNutritionist, one question: I’m assuming you eat a raw vegan diet (or “high raw” as you mentioned earlier)…why? Why NOT cook many of the foods that you eat?

  • VeganNutritionist

    Not sure what happened, but around 4 posts are gone, and the webpage to discussion board auto login stopped working.

  • VeganNutritionist

    Author: Toxins


    “I don’t need a study to prove my simple point. Lets look at
    calorie density. Lets assume a 2,000 calorie diet consisting of fruits,
    vegetables and nuts (since complex carbohydrates require cooking unless

    To achieve  this you would need to eat about 6 bananas, 20 cups of
    chopped kale, and a cup cup of almonds (which is around 70 grams of fat,
    100% of our daily value.) And all these foods would fill u up quickly
    (except the almonds) but not keep u full very long at all.

    Those ratios could be changed around however, it would still be quite an
    inefficient diet…especially with all that kale if u chose to gets
    your calories from this nutrient dense green.

    If we had cooked food on the other hand, we would need only 1 cup of dry
    rice, 2 cups of oats and 3 medium sweet potatoes (excluding all other
    fruits and vegetables from the diet). This food not only keeps us full
    long, but it is nutritious and satisfies our energy needs. ”

    My Response:

    you are really proving your ignorance on nutrition.  First of all, the nutritional value of the raw food you mentioned is several orders of magnitude higher than the cooked food you recommended.  Kale being one of the highest in the world.  In addition, the best formula we have that simplifies the path to health is Health=Nutrients/Calories,  So, the more nutrients and fewer calories, the healthier we become.  You gave a list of cooked foods with rather low levels of nutrients and high calories.  Not the best foods for becoming healthy.  And what happens when someone eats more calories?  The first thing is their metabolism speeds up.  You probably think this is a good thing, but it is not.  A fast metabolism promotes disease and increases aging. 

    You are the FIRST person to suggest that more calories are better.  I am assuming it is because this is your last attempt to somehow promote the “drawbacks” of a raw food diet.  You have made a lot of assumptions and expressed your opinion, but you haven’t provided any evidence.  Why not step up and simply withdraw your statement that a raw foods diet has drawbacks.  Have you ever eaten a raw foods diet for any considerable amount of time?  Have you ever felt the energy and vitality they provide?  Have you ever been to a raw foods festival and seen the bodies of raw food practitioners?  The best way to describe most of them is “Greek Gods”.

    If you are eating any whole-foods plant-based diet, I certainly wouldn’t tell you it has drawbacks.  In fact, I would support you because it is very healthy for you, the environment, and the animals.  What is your motivation to tel someone who eats healthy and compassionately that their diet has drawbacks? 

    Dr Greger even stated in one of the videos you linked that we should consume vegetables in whatever form that makes us want to consume the most.  For me, that is raw.

    Author: maybush1


    VeganNutritionist, one question: I’m assuming you eat a raw vegan diet
    (or “high raw” as you mentioned earlier)…why? Why NOT cook many of the
    foods that you eat?

    I don’t like cooked food as much as I like raw.  I do occasionally eat cooked food, but I like the way raw foods taste and the way they make me feel. 

    • Why is it that you are attacking someone who more or less agrees with the way you eat (we ALL agree that a vegan diet is the healthiest, regardless of HOW it’s prepared…those are minutia and details that shouldn’t invite such a strong attacking response). Calling someone ignorant (even indirectly) certainly does not invite people to your side. The same accusations you are directing toward Toxins (claiming something without proof, of which Toxins seems to have done one ONE point) is something you seem to be doing quite well and in seemingly much more abundance: “the nutritional value of the raw food you mentioned is several orders of magnitude higher than the cooked food you recommended” (“several orders of magnitude”? By what reference?), “the best formula we have that simplifies the path to health is Health=Nutrients/Calories” (Seems too simplistic of an equation…what about other factors? Organics? Age? Cooking? Etc…have we looked at all of those thousands of antioxidants you mentioned are in many foods? Maybe many are deleterious in higher numbers of that equation – the numerator), “a list of cooked foods with rather low levels of nutrients and high calories” (what nutrients? You previously mentioned thousands in food. And by what reference?), “The first thing is their metabolism speeds up. [After eating more calories]”, “A fast metabolism promotes disease and increases aging.” (I believe aerobic exercise tends to increase metabolism…should we stop?), ”
      The best way to describe most of them [people at a raw foods festival] is “Greek Gods”” (I’ve seen many and they seem sickly thin to me…but that’s admittedly just my *opinion*)…and all of these unsupported claims were found in your last post *alone*! My point is simply this: why argue so vehemently against someone who seems to be pretty much on your side of the health argument? I think your energy and resources would be better and more efficiently utilized  if directed toward those who REALLY promote unhealthy diet/lifestyles.

      To your health!

      • VeganNutritionist

        Now you are just using ad hominem and being quite hypocritical and not to mention rude.  I am not trying to win anyone to “my side” I am just challenging your inaccurate and opinionated statement that a raw food diet has some kind of drawback versus cooked food.  Just admit that what your claim is baseless. 

        Look up phytonutrients.  Something over 10,000 of them.  

        Exercise decreases metabolism.   This is why people train.  The lower the resting metabolism and the higher the maximum output means the greatest available work output. 

        “I think your energy and resources would be better and more efficiently
        utilized  if directed toward those who REALLY promote unhealthy

        You made the derogatory comment against my diet, remember?  Someone proves you wrong, and then you can only attack them?  Seriously, can’t you just man up and admit when you spoke out of ignorance? 

        • That’s funny, but Toxins and I are two completely different people (I’m just observing from the sidelines as you continue to attack her/him). I think you’re confused as to whom is whom. Btw, I used no ad hominems toward you in my last post (if I did, please…point them out!…and if so, I apologize). Also, I completely agree that there are hundreds if not thousands of “phytonutrients” and antioxidants in foods. But you ignored my point with respect to them: if so, then how can YOU make a judgment call on their total efficacy (have they all been researched?), just as you have accused Toxins of doing the same with respect to the claim that they were making? 

          One potential example, as you mentioned in an earlier post with respect to absorption of these nutrients, is the possibility that if taken in too large a number or dose they become hazardous. More, in other words, isn’t necessarily better. If this is what you are saying, then I applaud you!

          As for resting metabolic rate (RMR) and exercise…I am afraid you are completely wrong. RMR INCREASES (not decreases) with exercise. This is a very well-known result of exercise in the medical community. Metabolic rates measure how much energy is being utilized in the body and that measurement goes UP with training and exercise (not down). For those who wish to lose weight, exercise provides them the best way to burn that excess energy store, thus an increase in their metabolic rate will benefit them. (One quick example of research to support that claim from many that I can find:;jsessionid=wFyKc43g4PP4tAIIjvMw.6)

          To you health!

    • Toxins

      The whole point of the calorie for calorie example was to show energy expenditures and efficiency of the diet in regards to quantity consumed. If you need to eat more raw food to achieve what cooked food has to offer that in itself is a drawback.

      • VeganNutritionist

        Sure, that is a drawback.  Because people just HATE eating food.

        I could make dozens more points against cooking, but I won’t.  If people are eating healthily, consciously, and have no symptoms of deficiency, then I wouldn’t dream of trying to get them to change by telling them their diet is somehow inferior to my own. 

        • Toxins

          People love eating food, that’s not the problem. The problem is when it gets to the point where one must eat food all day to remain satiated and to satisfy energy needs and expenditures. Its a constant state of digestion.

          • VeganNutritionist

            You are grasping at straws.  Yesterday, I ate over 4,000 calories in four meals that probably took around 30-40 minutes of my time, and most of that was cutting up the food.  When I cook food, I spend a LOT more time cooking than when eating raw foods, so I actually have more free time.  So, again, your point is baseless.  Can you simply admit that you have no evidence?  Or are you going to keep grasping at straws because your ego is too big to ever admit you may be wrong?

          • Toxins

             You seem to be missing my point… I have tried to explain it to you in several different ways now but I see now that you simply cannot grasp what I am trying to tell you. Ill leave it at that and let the readers of these comments decide what’s best.

          • I agree. 

          • I thought you recently mentioned that “the best formula we have that simplifies the path to health is Health=Nutrients/Calories”. 4000 calories in one day certainly sounds to me that the denominator in that equation will shoot the “Health” result straight down! Now, accusing someone’s ego of being too big to admit a wrong that you want desperately from them certainly sounds like a great example of an ad hominem to me! That’s an example of a character attack. 

            To your health!

          • VeganNutritionist

             Let me explain the formula to you in an easier to understand format. 

            Health=Nutrients/Calories means that the higher the nutrients, and the lower the calories, the healthier they tend to be.  Now you made the statement that 4000 calories would “shoot the “health” result straight down.”  But again, you are formulating a conclusion based on insufficient data.  You have no way of knowing how many nutrients I consumed.  If the nutrients I consumed where 1,000 fold that of someone who ate only a 400 calorie hamburger all day, then the resulting health figure would be 100 times more than that of the person who ate only the hamburger. 

            And I am sure I burned at least 4,000 calories yesterday. 

            Now, concerning ad hominem.  In order for me to have committed ad hominem, I would have to be attacking his character in order to show his argument is false.  I showed many times his argument was false and he repeatedly continue to fail to show any evidence to support his claims.  Therefore, the discussion was moot and at not time did I “attack” him to draw attention away from his position.  His position was already compromised. 

            However, you ARE committing ad hominem again by trying to focus on my character instead of the subject of the discussion. 

            Now, back to the discussion…

  • VeganNutritionist

    Oh, sure you are a different person.

    You are telling me I am attacking someone. That is ad hominem.

    I am just trying to get someone to show me evidence of the drawbacks of my diet, or admit they have none.

    Concerning RMR.  The abstract of the study to which you linked mentions nothing of energy intake.  Nor do dozens of other studies I have read mention energy intake.   This is a flaw in the design of the study by not controlling other effects of metabolism.  When people exercise, they usually eat more food.  More calories than the amount of exercise would normally burn. So, their metabolism increases to try and burn the extra calories. 

    Here is a study that takes in account the energy balance of the individual.

    “These data suggest that when exercise is performed with energy
    replacement (i.e., energy balance is maintained), 24-h fat oxidation
    does not increase and in fact, may be slightly decreased. It appears
    that the state of energy balance is an underappreciated factor
    determining the impact of exercise on fat oxidation.”

    • lol, it’s completely up to you if you choose to believe that I am a different person than Toxins. It’s actually quite comical to think that I am! Anyway, “You are telling me I am attacking someone. That is ad hominem.” Uh, no. That is not an ad hominem. Here’s the definition (if you should choose to believe it) from Merriam-Webster: 
      1 : appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect2: marked by or being an attack on an opponent’s character rather than by an answer to the contentions madeNot to nitpick (but I feel that’s where we’ve gone), can you please explain to me how when I pointed out the fact that when you attacked someone I am using an ad hominem? I am neither “appealing to feelings or prejudices” (1) by pointing that fact out…nor am I “attacking you” by saying so (2). Good luck on that one!I, personally, have found little to no drawbacks to your raw diet…nor have I ever accused you of having any. In fact, I would like to know if there are any as well.RMR: It goes up with exercise (which was my point, if you missed it)…I said it does…you said it goes down…consistant research proves me correct no matter how much you wish to redefine their protocol.Enjoy!

      • VeganNutritionist

         Mr. Maybusher. 

        Here is the definition you posted.  ” marked by or being an attack on an opponent’s character rather than by an answer to the contentions made” 
        You attacked my character by claiming I attack others.  I did not. 

        No research proves that RMR goes up with exercise.  The study you linked to does not factor in calorie consumption.  Show me a study that does factor in calorie consumption that shows RMR increases when energy intake equals energy expenditure.   

        You need to be able too read the studies completely, understand the methods of data taking, understand the data derived, determine if the methods used to obtain the data support the conclusion, and use good raw data to establish your own conclusions.  I don’t just read the abstract and use it as evidence to show what I am speaking about is correct, I read the whole study and look at it objectively.  The study you linked to does NOT support your conclusion. 

  • Nicolás

    what about creatine transportation in blood? It needs both Na and Cl to be transported in the bloodstream, right?.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please also check out my associated blog post Do Eden Beans Have Too Much Iodine?

  • vademonbreun

    Can you find out more information about sodium alginate?

    • Dr. Connie Sanchez, N.D.

      Sodium alginate is made from brown algae and is used as a food stabilizer, thickener, gelling agent, or emulsifier in foods such as ice cream or gravy. It has been found to increase blood pressure in some people.

  • Chris

    The Intersalt study in 1984 concluded for the world no association between sodium intake and blood pressure. Dr Michael Alderman has done a lot of work concluding the less salt we eat, the higher prevalence of myocardial infarction there is due to an increase in plasma renin. Salt is a mineral and it is good for us, too little can be harmful. I add good quality sea salt to everything i cook and eat and have done so for the past five years and my blood pressure is 100/50

  • rockyford58

    I have had very good blood pressure readings, usually 116-120/72-75. But after starting a plant based diet, and working a stressful job, studying for a major test for work, and having just moved into a new house, I found my blood pressure 135-140/81-85! That concerns me! I don’t know if it’s all the changes and work happening lately, but it can’t be the diet. Someone help!

  • I have been thinking about reducing my sodium intake since I see stuff like this a lot but have developed hyponatremia. I dont do intense exercise where I sweat a lot, but my levels were almost severe that they ran the test twice. Ive been a vegan a few years now. Whats up with this? I am really surprised.

  • DavidAv8tor

    Would you comment on today’s (May 15, 2013) IOM/NAS study that has been reported to state that reducing sodium intake below 2300mg may be harmful? Sounds bogus to me…

  • sel

    Mr.Greger, what do you think, is it ok to cut all salt for several weeks, given that I don’t eat processed food, but the same time I eat only very little food? Is it any risk in my functioning? Thank you very much!

    • You should be fine from a salt stand point unless you have some unusual medical condition. I have not had any patients who have had their functioning compromised by eliminating salt from their diet. Your kidneys are able to reduce the elimination of sodium to very low levels if needed. Of course it depends on what you are trying to achieve. If you are on medications you should work with your physician if you don’t feel well with no added salt in your diet then I would work with your physician as well.

  • Ironman49

    Hi Doctor Greger, so what is better No Salt or Low Salt? We constantly hear that we some salt is important but is it a myth of the industry? I would describe myself as a heavy exerciser.

  • Ray Tajoma

    I am a vegan and last year I had a heat stroke. Because of high blood pressure, I avoided salt. I have seen several UTube Videos (see links below) teaching the benefits of salt, iodine and how lack of salt may cause “Heat Stroke”. Very confusing. Please clarify. Thank You.
    Salt & Iodine Enhance Your Health (1/4)

  • tavit

    OMG I had no idea. That is another reason why I should be a vegan specialty whit my high blood presure

  • Truth Seeker

    There are major problems with drawing any conclusions regarding the study cited by Dr. Greger. Besides the small population size of 29 individuals, the short 2 week duration of the study, and the fact that it looked at only overweight and obese individuals, most problematic was the fact that changes were made to the diets of both the low salt and high salt groups. Was the high salt group consuming the same level of salt prior to study or did the new diet prescribed by the study represent an increase in salt consumption for the high salt group? Also, it would be far more useful to see the effects on vascular function of a low salt versus high salt diet over a period of at least 6 months to a year to see how vascular function adjusted to the new salt levels over an extended time period. In addition, Dr. Greger also implied that individuals with low blood pressure will also reduce their vascular function by consuming higher levels of salt. Since the study looked at only individuals with normal BP such a conclusion is unwarranted.

    • Toxins

      Here is some supplementary data

      Although both studies are short term and the sample size is small, the data remains consistent with the finding.

      • Truth Seeker

        Thanks for providing these additional studies. They do seem to support the possibility that reducing sodium intake has a positive effect on vascular function at least in the short run. My biggest concern is that these studies all involve short term interventions in sodium consumption and in very small population samples. It would be far more persuasive if long term measures of vascular function were compared between age adjusted populations, with basically equivalent average blood pressure readings and significantly different average daily consumption levels of sodium but where no intervention was involved.

        • Toxins

          Outside of vascular function, we know that consuming higher sodium may also cause an increase in calcium loss. Figure 14 describes this relationship

          I have not seen, or at least do not remember seeing long term studies on sodium and vascular function other then hypertension but I will look into this.

        • Joshua Pritikin

          I agree. The evidence against salt does not seem all that strong. More studies are needed.

  • Rebecca

    Is the sodium hydroxide used in making pretzels toxic/dangerous/”harmful”?

  • Sebastian Tristan

    What about those who exercise a lot? Do they require more salt considering they lose it through sweat?

  • Ian

    why doesn’t chicken taste salt then?

  • Mindaugas Raulinaitis

    High blood pressure doesn’t sound as scary as the results of quite a number of studies, e.g.:

    “Our study supports the view that high intake of sodium is an important dietary risk factor for gastric cancer, with a synergistic effect found between salt and H.pylori…”

  • My grandma recently moved in and she wants to put salt in everything I eat! Now she thinks I’m some crazy anti-salt person :/

  • DarylT

    I’m told potassium and sodium work together in the body, when you eat a lot of bananas it appears to help your body rid itself of excess sodium, I wonder if we could factor that in?

  • rick

    Do we know the health benefits of Himalayan salt over regular table salt? I know that all the minerals but sodium and chloride are removed from table salt. Plus flow agents and iodine are added.

    • jj

      Check the amount of sodium per 1/4 teaspoon in the Himalayan salt compared to table salt. I haven’t found one that is under 500mg. That is basically the same as table salt. There are sea salts that have less than 400 mg per 1/4 teaspoon and no fillers. Seems to me they would be the better alternative.

      • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

        Although they do not contain iodine. So that is one downfall to the alternative salts.

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Salt is salt. You may receive more minerals, but you still get the sodium. Hate to be the bearer of bad news :(

  • C B

    Honestly I personally know people in the high carb low fat community who have ben hospitalized for hyponatremia, me included! All because of the lack of sodium in our blood which is vital for basic human function and lacking this mineral leads to death. Dr.Greger are you absolutely sure that we ALL should avoid salt? I mean this is a serious matter… It’s one thing to avoid animal products high in sodium and all processed food but for those of us who already follow a whole food plant based diet, specifically high in carbs and low in fat, are you sure that we should also avoid salt??? I’m no scientist so I trust your advice but I have to say that most of your audience here is already vegan and eating minimally processed food and that a little salt miht probably be just what “the doctor ordered “, in order to avoid the terrible experience that many of us have had. Hyponatremia is serious and can lead to fast death.
    Looking forward for your reply! Please do reply?
    Thank you so very much.

    Ps- please take a look at this study if you get a chance:

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Hi JV, I think you bring up great points. I checked the research and did not find more risk of hyponatremia in vegans. Perhaps anecdotally it is something to watch out for if following a vegan diet? I’m not sure and I would not make that correlation. I responded about salt intake in another section, if interested. I’m also not sure what to make of the study you listed it talks about the need for sodium and it’s biochemical pathway, which we know the human body requires, but I’m not sure it suggests risk with low-sodium diets? The sodium appetite was interesting! Thanks for sharing your concerns and questions.


      • JV

        Thank you for your response! This is all so confusing though, I really wish an agreement on salt intake would be reached by the medical community! Dr. John McDougall recommends a little sprinkled salt on food for people with no heart disease. So does Dr. George Guthrie (see this short video –
        When I was hospitalized they told me that the major problem is drinking too much water (I had drunk about 8liters the day I was hospitalized! Because my sodium levels were already low, My body was asking for minerals which made me more thirsty and by drinking water the situation was only getting worse! I had to be on intravenous saline for 3days to recover to normal levels. I know a guy who went through the same, and even had damage to his brain because of this situation, it really is quite dangerous!
        I was advised to start adding a little salt to the food, especially because I don’t eat processed food, and to limit water intake (actually after sodium levels were regular I stopped being so thirsty, I probably don’t even drink half of what I used to).

        So here’s the thing, when you say stop all salt, I feel fear that this might happen again.
        I also am aware that too much of it must be bad.

        But how much is too much? And is it really safe to have absolutely none at all?

        I honestly would love to have a conclusive response on this, or at least a satisfying one… As of now it all seems very confusing and unclear, in terms of what doctors are advising.

        It seemed from your response that you too aren’t sure what to advise anymore, is that correct?
        I hope more studies and/or conclusions are reached so we can follow a path that is likely to be more successful.

        Thanks again Joseph!


        • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

          Less than 1500mg of sodium per day. I don’t think we ever said you need zero salt, as it is needed! It’s found naturally in foods in low amounts. Drinking that much water can cause problems, as you mentioned and unfortunately experienced. Another member posted a similar story, my comments about drinking too much water and sweating on hot summer days​. Again, the American Heart Association advised <1500mg/day

          • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

            And check out Dr. Forrester’s comments below. Thanks, JV!

          • JV

            Thank you so much for responding on this subject Joseph! Just to clarify, if one eats a whole foods plant based diet with plenty of greens (over a pound daily), lots of starches, along with other vegetables and a few fruits, and on top of that adds nutritional yeast, seaweed and flaxseed to meals (and herbs and spices), would that satisfy 1500mg of sodium from diet OR is adding salt required to reach that value? In other words, what is 1500mg/day in terms of plant foods in their whole form? Thanks again, honestly you’ve no idea how much it means to me that you’re helping clarify this subject!

          • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

            That would probably cut it (being < 1500mg) especially with the sea veggies added I think they tend to have more so that's fine. You d have to calculate to know for sure.

            No problem you are very welcome :-)

          • JV

            Thank you Joseph! :)))

  • Wade Patton

    OK, I popped over here from the comments on today’s video, and still don’t see any reason to forgo salt. Yes I hear the doctor telling me that it is bad. That it kills people and harms circulation. I don’t see why and how. I’m used to seeing the mechanisms or the research that show how a particular thing is good or bad. I see none of that here. I just see the same old mantra (same as standard medical practice-which has a horrible reputation) of “reduce” salt.

    That being said, I am WFPB eating now (since March) and have so little salt excreted in my sweat that it doesn’t burn my eyes. I work out of doors and consume mass quantities of water daily. I eat very very little processed food, but use the shaker to add iodine and also “seasoned” salt to much of my cooking. Always have had low-healthy BP, so low that giving blood makes me pass out and worthless for several days (I’m highly active-and soaked with sweat at this moment).

    Forgive and please re-direct if there are some comments below which will indicate the mechanisms or research studies that SHOW us how salt wrecks circulation. Until then I’m satisfied that “un-salty” sweat as well as light-colored/frequent urine are good signs of proper hydration and bodily chemical balance. Thanks!

  • JohnPeopleman

    Dr Greger what would be your recommendation for sodium in endurance athletes? I am a road cyclist and 10 – 15 hrs/wk. I steer away from sports drinks and tend to drink water on rides. However, even with fluid consumption I usually lose around 750g/hr of water. On hot days I can see salt crystals on my clothing and feel them on my skin. Is 1500mg enough to cover sodium losses and if not would the raising of this limit invoke some of the other damaging effects of sodium on the body?

  • Marian

    I’ve been searching for anything on this website about Meniere’s Disease and haven’t been able to find anything. I know a lot of doctors prescribe a low salt diet to their patients, but is there any evidence of a whole food plant based diet helping with Meniere’s? Thanks.

  • asajp

    I have low blood pressure — 90/58 or 87/60 for example — and accompanying symptoms: fatigue, “gray-outs”, heavy head, inability to concentrate, etc. My doctor has advised me to up my sodium intake. I find that I crave salt. I eat a mostly plant-based diet — but I have never cut out sodium or even sought to lower it. My blood sodium levels and iron levels are normal. What healthy alternatives do I have to get my blood pressure up? Please, any sound advice would be so helpful! Also: thanks for How Not to Die — I’ve bought several copies and handed them out to those I love.

  • Andreea Boboc

    Hi Dr. Greger and generous staff,
    What do you think of using potassium chloride in lieu of sea salt? I am a healthy vegan, 46, female, with just Bell’s Palsy as a pre-existing condition. Would that be OK? Also, are there any daily upper limits for potassium chloride? I am experimenting with spices, but some foods are too bland without salt, and the adjustment in taste can only get one so far…Please advise on potassium chloride. Sorry if this question has been answered before. I follow your daily videos but I am not aware of such an answer. Many thanks!

  • Kevin Preston

    Dr. Michael Greger, can you research Himalayan sulfur-rich Black Salt, so I don’t have to?

  • Khandita

    I would like to point out something VERY IMPORTANT here. NOT ALL people need or should be on a low sodium diet! I get my blood tested every three months to check my diabetic A1C sugar levels, and it turns out that I have CHRONIC low blood sodium levels. This may be due to side effects of some other medications I take, otherwise there seems to be no other cause, or it could be genetic. My primary care physician is always getting on my case about not eating enough salt. Always! I’m a vegetarian who cooks her own food, and I do add sodium to my diet, and drink lots of water like we are recommended to do. However, NOT EVERYONE IS THE SAME! Recently after a hard work out at the pool lap swimming (and hydrating with water), after coming home I felt faint and very weak, and just collapsed on a nearby chair, I waited a bit for it to go away, and then got up to try to prepare some lunch. Long story short, I didn’t get to finish because I began to get so fatigued and weak, and had to lapse into a chair halfway leaning back. I had a real bad feeling about the whole thing, and made sure my phone was nearby, as the symptoms quickly got worse and worse. I did not want to go to the hospital!! But it came to the point where I was getting dizzy and my limbs were so weak I could barely hold the phone–I had to call 911. On the phone the woman said to hang on and not hang up, and she continually tried to talk to me. At one point I lost consciousness for a bit, as when I came to, I heard her say, “Ma-am? Ma-am? Are you there? Hello? Did you leave? Speak to me!” EMS came and I could not move my limbs at all, or get up, walk, or move to the bed, and was nearly on the floor. I didn’t want to go, but they took me. Thank God. There was nothing else wrong with me (no heart problems, stroke, anxiety or anything else), but my blood sodium levels had really tanked. From the ER doctor, I was diagnosed with hyponatremia. His instructions to me are to INCREASE my salt intake, and DECREASE my water intake. I am now forcing myself to tolerate higher levels of salt in my foods, and cutting back on water. It’s hard. However since I have been doing that, I feel so, so much better all the time now, and have increased energy. Before I was so fatigued all the time. Lesson learned. So, don’t just assume a low-sodium diet is for everyone! Sodium is a necessary nutrient, folks. I have two other vegetarian friends who have this problem as well. GET YOUR BLOOD TESTED FIRST BEFORE GOING ON A LOW SODIUM DIET. .