Studies Suggest Low Salt Diets Are Deadly

by Sarah Activism, Healthy LivingComments: 67

“Mankind can live without gold … but not without Salt.”   –  Cassiodorus, Roman statesman, circa 500 AD

low salt dietsThe Feds are at it again.  This time, if they have their way, the amount of salt in food will soon become highly restricted, perhaps the modern manifestation of the ancient salt routes, which during the Dark and Medieval Ages, lined the pockets of the rich and greatly harmed the peasants who were unable to procure enough to maintain health.

Of course, the FDA push to control the sodium content of food is cloaked in the argument that low salt diets are beneficial to health.

This is simply not so.  Low salt diets are harmful to health and there is plenty of compelling research that backs this up.

The most recent study which dismantles the sacred cow that salt is somehow bad for you appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in May 2011.

3,681 healthy European men and women aged 60 or younger were followed for about 8 years.  Those that consumed higher than average amounts of sodium did not experience increased risk for hypertension, stroke, or heart attack.

Dr. Jan Staessen MD, senior author of the study at the University of Leuven in Belgium stated that the study’s findings:

“… do not support the current recommendations of a generalized and indiscriminate reduction of sodium intake at the population level.”

Low Salt Diets Are Deadly

It appears that it is much better to have a higher than average sodium intake than a lower than average one.  In 2010, The Journal of the American Medical Association published the results of a study that showed even small decreases in sodium content in the diet increase the risk for a cardiovascular event and death.

The sodium levels adhered to in this study were based on US government recommended dietary guidelines, so people who follow these low salt recommendations are in fact at increased, not decreased, risk for a significant and possibly deadly health event!

The authors of the study wrote:

“Taken together, our current findings refute the estimates of computer models of lives saved and healthcare costs reduced with lower salt intake.  They also do not support the current recommendations of a generalized and indiscriminate reduction in salt intake at the population level.”

Another 2010 study from Harvard University showed that participants developed insulin resistance in only 7 days when put on a salt restricted diet!  Insulin resistance is an alarming condition that indicates a strong likelihood for the development of Type 2 Diabetes.

Similarly, Australian studies have shown that those individuals with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes die in larger numbers when following a salt restricted diet.

From a common sense point of view, review of these studies indicates that low salt intake is a particularly risky path for those with blood sugar control issues.  Given that 80% or so of adults over the age of 25 are already overweight or obese in the United States, FDA restrictions for salt content in food could put the majority of the population at considerable risk for early death!

Coincidence? New Salt Replacement to Hit the Market

The very clear danger of the FDA mandating a reduction in the salt content of foods and putting government muscle behind the promotion of low salt diets is that manufacturers will increase the amount of MSG in foods to compensate for the loss of flavor.  This has been Big Food’s typical response to government calls for reduced sodium since the 1970’s.

It appears, however, that food manufacturers have a new food additive to replace sodium should these new salt restrictions be approved. Could this be why Big Food is behind this current push by the FDA?

The salt substitute is called Senomyx and according to the Weston A. Price Foundation:

“The Senomyx salt substitute is clearly a chemical product that works in the body as a neurological agent, causing an individual to perceive a salty taste. It would seem to be nothing more or less than a neurotrophic drug. Because the maker of the Senomyx product calls it a food, their salt substitute does not require the extensive testing that would be required by the FDA if it were called a pharmaceutical. To our knowledge, there has been no testing of the Senomyx salt substitute for safety, and it is so potent that the amount needed in food is below the amount requiring FDA approval.”

A chemicalized salt substitute which capitalizes monetarily on the low salt diets trend promoted by the FDA?  Absolutely.

Meet The Salt Guru Who Warns Against Low Salt Diets

How can we join forces to stop the FDA in its quest to restrict the salt in our foods?

Enter Morton Satin, The Salt Guru, an entertaining and compelling speaker featured at the Wise Traditions 2011 Conference in Dallas Texas.

A molecular biologist by training, Satin is a former United Nations executive and author with extensive experience in all aspects of the food industry.  He is currently Vice President of Science and Research at the Salt Institute and he is fighting to block these new salt restrictions by the FDA.

Please watch this informative 2 minute video featuring The Salt Guru which pithily explains why salt is actually good for you and how you can help stop the FDA from meddling with your salt!

Click here for ideas on where to source the highest quality, purest sea salt to facilitate optimum health.  Ditch low salt diets, substantiated only by junk science, for good!

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Source:  The Salt of The Earth, July 2011

Picture Credit

Comments (67)

  • Nea

    I love a lot of salt, never enough of it. But, for the people with a low blood pressure (like my father) it is not advisable to consume. Only in limited amount :/

    February 16th, 2014 2:46 pm Reply
    • Mary

      Why would salt be dangerous for those with low blood pressure?

      February 16th, 2014 7:33 pm Reply
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  • Ava

    What about people who have high blood pressure? Is unrefined salt still good for them? And what do you think about adding extra iodine to sea salt?

    August 10th, 2013 7:59 pm Reply
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  • Robert

    Refined salt and ‘real’ salt are two entirely different products. All have their uses yet the Government should definitely make it known that one has 82 minerals (present in its natural state) removed.

    March 19th, 2013 9:58 am Reply
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  • thixotropic

    It’s important to differentiate between salt (sodium chloride) and sodium, which can come from many sources, notably MSG. By trying to restrict salt but not *sodium*, the FDA is really tipping their hand that their aim is not to support human health. The chloride half of salt is also a crucial nutrient; MSG and other flavoring agents are completely lacking it.

    Of course, sea salt is better than plain salt — iodine and many trace elements are present, and as with pink Himalayan, there are likely to be beneficial microorganisms as well.

    February 1st, 2013 4:21 pm Reply
  • thixotropic

    Celtic and pink Himalayan have differing goodies in them; both are good for you. Why not just keep both around, and use whichever you feel like at any given moment?
    Himalayan is higher in little micro-organisms that are found in clay, and Celtic will be higher in iodine and some little seaborne micro-organisms. i see no need to choose between them :)

    February 1st, 2013 3:14 pm Reply
  • Kelly Malone

    So what salt is best to use? I’ve been buying Himalayan Pink salt but should I switch?

    January 30th, 2013 1:07 pm Reply
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  • Mary

    I have hypothyroidism and take synthroid. What effect will switching from iodized table salt to a quality sea salt have on thyroid function? Should I take iodine supplementally? No use asking my doctor. She just tells me to take my pill and not worry about what I eat. To those who will suggest I see a different doctor, I have. None seem to care. Nutritionists I’ve consulted all seem to have different opinions.

    September 5th, 2012 9:09 pm Reply
    • Tammy

      I am also on synthroid and would like to know about this.

      January 31st, 2013 8:38 pm Reply
  • April Kerr

    My boyfriend’s mum went on a low salt diet and ended up in hospital because of it. Now the doctors keep telling her to eat more salt as she’s often low in blood tests.

    May 24th, 2012 3:05 pm Reply
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  • Cindy L.

    Ok, Sarah. I agree with the short video. But I decided to click on another to see what he’s about. and in one of the vids (9:30 long) he starts out by showing how bureaucrats are wrong about food science by saying that they banned milk pasteurization in the early 1900s EVEN THOUGH THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN DIED FROM INFECTED MILK!!! He’s alluding to it again later into the vid by saying how can you believe them about low salt diets when they were so wrong to prevent/delay milk pasteurization for so long (talking about NY here)!

    Hard to believe him on the salt part when he’s throwing out the baby with the bath water on the tainted milk issue! (not sure if that’s the right metaphor, but I hope you get the point!) He even critized some country for delaying pasteurization till the 80’s (Scotland, maybe?) . We know the story with the milk, and how all of our food is now overprocessed and neutralized and devoid of nutrition because of paving the way with pasteurization. Milk pasteurization was used instead of cleaning up the cow feeding and proper nutrition and hygeine. And it does who how government intervention tends to mess things up, but he’s using the opposite argument about it–that the government was wrong to wait so long when they “knew” about the science of it much earlier!

    Ugh! Sort of like listening to Mark McAfrey talk about how cows evolved into grass eaters…

    Sorry, but I’m very disappointed.

    January 24th, 2012 3:26 am Reply
    • Cindy L.

      And I don’t want to detract from the argument that salt shouldn’t be regulated. it shouldn’t, for goodness sake. What should be regulated is all the garbage food manufacterers are able to put in in place of the real stuff, and then call it food, or good, or good for you, or whatever.

      So all you out there, just because this guy comes up with this argument, it doesn’t mean we can let the FDA tell us what to eat and not eat!

      January 24th, 2012 3:29 am Reply
  • Laurie Neverman (@CommonSenseIdea) (@CommonSenseIdea)

    Pass the salt, please.

    January 23rd, 2012 12:52 pm Reply
  • Vanessa

    So I have been recently diagnosed with high blood pressure and I’ve been told to decrease my salt intake and start a low sodium diet, and I’m also put on a pill that is supposed to flush out excess salt in my body. With me having high blood pressure is it still dangerous to be on a low salt diet?

    January 23rd, 2012 12:26 am Reply
  • Cana

    Sarah – Loren Cordain, a professor at Colorado State University, who has written books about the merits of paleo diet said there is a link between consuming salt and osteoporosis. I like to add sea salt to my food but now I’m not sure if this is a good idea now. Have you heard anything about this? Thank you.

    January 22nd, 2012 7:07 pm Reply
  • Jen

    Thanks for sharing — I added my comment to the form!

    January 22nd, 2012 12:58 pm Reply
  • Dawn T (@CulturedMama) (@CulturedMama)

    Studies Suggest Low Salt Diets Are Deadly – The Healthy Home Economist

    January 22nd, 2012 11:25 am Reply
  • Michelle Saunders (@MichelleSaunds)

    Studies Suggest Low Salt Diets Are Deadly

    January 22nd, 2012 11:22 am Reply
  • Craig Fear (@PVNutritherapy) (@PVNutritherapy)

    How does some Senomyx and pepper sound?

    January 22nd, 2012 11:21 am Reply
  • Elian Eychenne (@genialegre)

    Studies Suggest Low Salt Diets Are Deadly

    January 22nd, 2012 2:26 am Reply
  • Tyler Cahoon (@bigcahoona)

    Studies Suggest Low Salt Diets Are Deadly @snark_tank @jtreas

    January 21st, 2012 9:03 pm Reply
  • Sheila

    MSG does contain sodium as well. In fact, I thought that this was probably the cause for the correlation between high sodium and health problems — ultraprocessed food has tons of MSG and other sodium sources, not just salt. Mark’s Daily Apple had a good article recently about sodium, and he suggests all the studies between sodium consumption and poor health were confounding “sodium consumption” with “salt consumption,” whereas a very high sodium level in the diet suggests that you’re eating a heck of a lot of processed foods … which, obviously, is bad for you. (

    January 21st, 2012 3:01 pm Reply
  • Chad Grosklags (@cgrosklags)

    I have never subscribed to the low salt mantra. Glad I didn’t.

    January 21st, 2012 12:18 pm Reply
  • Kendahl (@NourishingRoots) (@NourishingRoots)

    Studies Suggest Low Salt Diets Are Deadly – The Healthy Home Economist #seasalt #traditionaldiet

    January 20th, 2012 10:03 pm Reply
  • Cate

    While I completely agree that salt should not be demonized and is very important in everyone’s diet, I don’t have a problem with the FDA restricting sodium in food. The sodium added to commercial foods is highly processed with additives and anti-caking agents and does not contain any beneficial minerals. I would rather have sodium free foods on the shelves in the supermarket and be able to add good, nutritious salt of my choosing to food at home. Of course we would all do better to not eat any of the types of foods they sell at the grocery store that contain added sodium.
    That being said, it is unfortunate that the FDA is making salt the culprit. Millions of people are receiving completely misguided information that WILL AFFECT THEIR HEALTH because the salt industry does not have as much money as say, processed food companies, to spend on lobbyists.

    January 20th, 2012 6:53 pm Reply
    • Cate

      Just reading through the comments, it does seem like everyone should voice their concerns about this new law. Bad salt is better than no salt.

      January 20th, 2012 7:04 pm Reply
    • tin

      Cate – did you read the post and comments thoroughly? The body needs sodium and although processed salt isn’t ideal, it’s better than the alternative which is another chemical that hasn’t been tested.

      January 21st, 2012 6:55 am Reply
  • Christine

    Wow Sarah, you’re at it again! This piece and the link to Sally Fallon’s article have finally helped me convince my husband that he needs to eat more salt, not less. We eat no processed food, yet once in a while he sneaks potato chips – simply because he craves the salt. He’s agreed to try salting his food for a few weeks and see if that helps. He’s underweight – despite having a terrific appetite- I wonder if this will have any effect? Thankyou!!

    January 20th, 2012 12:26 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      One of my children LOVES salt. I just give her the salt shaker and let her have at it. She won’t eat eggs unless they are heavily salted. We use good quality sea salt, of course, and I don’t worry how much she uses. She is just like her Grandma, I might add so it’s just a genetically strong taste for salt. Do I worry about it? No, I just let her salt to taste which is what everyone should do and forget what the know nothing government bureaucrats have to say about it.

      January 20th, 2012 1:37 pm Reply
  • Beth

    I highly recommend getting a recording of the talk Morton Satin gave at the Nov 2011 Weston Price conference. I couldn’t resist getting out my notes. Among the many fascinating facts he shared are:

    – low sodium outcomes include insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, cognition loss, unsteadiness, falls, fractures

    – in homes for the elderly, low salt diets are automatically implemented and the rates of falls and broken hips are 3 times greater than elsewhere, plus it contributes to loss of appetite and loss of interest in life

    – it’s a common misconception that we consume more salt now due to processed foods; salt was used to preserve all kinds of foods prior to modern refrigeration and food processing. After WWII consumption went from 18-20 grams to 9 grams per day

    – the data shows the more salt you eat, the longer you live

    – there’s a myth that the so-called heart healthy Mediterranean diet is low in sodium where in fact it has 40% more salt than US (it’s in cheese, preserved meats, traditional foods)

    – the same person who developed the govt DRI dietary guidelines for salt consumption is the same person asked to evaluate the guidelines. This equals corruption, and it’s a case of ideology, not science.

    So, you like your cheese the way it’s supposed to be, with salt? The effects of these new rules will be far reaching. Do make your voice heard. There’s just one week left now for public comments so click the link above!

    January 20th, 2012 12:23 pm Reply
  • Scott Sonnon (@flowcoach)

    Studies Suggest Low Salt Diets Are Deadly – The Healthy Home Economist

    January 20th, 2012 9:55 am Reply
  • Irene

    This is horrifying. Senomyx is manufactured using human cells. The inclusion of human cells in some vaccines was the reason I first questioned them. And here again, a company is trying to whitewash it as “healhy” with a government backing. And it (Senomyx) can be in anything with “artificial flavorings.”

    January 20th, 2012 1:28 am Reply
  • Patee Ramsey

    I am coming across soooo many people who think they are being healthy by not using salt. I am noticing this trend particularly prevalent around the elderly, whose doctors are telling them to eat a low-salt diet. It seems like the low salt diet is akin to the craze of low fat diets. I agree with Brenda that the issue of processed and unprocessed salt is confusing. Like Brenda, I thought processed salt was a no-no and unprocessed salt was the only way to go. I will certainly share this important information with family, friends and people following my blog. Thanks for this post!!

    January 19th, 2012 9:20 pm Reply
  • Patee Ramsey (@Basic29Patee)

    Studies Suggest Low Salt Diets Are Deadly

    January 19th, 2012 10:00 pm Reply
  • Homemaker

    Can you tell me what you do for iodine? On my Celtic sea salt it says it is not a significant source. Thank you!

    January 19th, 2012 8:15 pm Reply
    • sarahbop

      My suggestion is to get kelp granules. They are very high in iodine and can be added to your foods just as easily as salt and pepper are.

      January 29th, 2013 11:13 am Reply
  • Sheri

    This is interesting. I just got back from my Holistic Doctor and he said I was low in sodium. I don’t eat much processed food and use sea salt liberally. I do notice that there is a big difference in using real salt to store bought salt. I don’t swell up using sea salt but do when I eat anything that is processed with salt.

    January 19th, 2012 6:21 pm Reply
  • Stanley Fishman

    Great article again. Salt is a vital nutrient, and a lack of salt leads to illness and death. The salt needs of every individual varies, with the specific condition of their body, so it is insane and evil to try to enforce a one amount fits all salt restriction.

    I respectfully disagree with the idea that processed salt, stripped of its minerals, with added sugar, artificial iodine, and chemicals added to keep the salt from clumping, is anywhere as good as real, unprocessed sea salt. Our bodies our programmed to ear real salt, and salt stripped of its minerals can actually cause a salt craving, as our bodies fail to find the minerals that should be there. For myself, I eat only unprocessed sea salt, and let my appetite be my guide in deciding how much to eat. The body knows much better than any bureaucrat or corporation corrupted scientist how much salt it needs. Sometimes I will have a lot, sometimes only a little. But I always have as much as I want.

    And I do not want to be guinea pig for some Frankenstein chemical that is designed to trick my body.

    No way should our government get involved in this, especially when it could hamper our access to traditionally fermented foods and cheese.

    January 19th, 2012 5:01 pm Reply
  • AmandaLP (@NourishedYear)

    Low salt is bad for you! 7 days on a low salt diet CREATES insulin resistance in healthy people. (via @healthyhomeecon

    January 19th, 2012 3:03 pm Reply
  • Beth

    SAMPLE COMMENTS: *** please personalize your comments to have the most impact ***

    I urge the FDA not to become involved in regulating or even recommending the level of salt in food.

    The science shows that reducing salt will not make most people healthier. The level of salt consumption in the U.S. has remained stable for the last 50 years according to a recent Harvard study, yet the rate of obesity and hypertension has increased. Studies show that restricting salt helps a minority of the general population reduce their blood pressure, while either increasing blood pressure or having no effect on the majority of people’s blood pressure.

    Moreover, reducing salt consumption could cause health problems for many people. Studies have shown that low sodium levels can increase insulin resistance (a precursor to Type 2 diabetes), lead to babies with low birth weights, and decrease in cognitive abilities in the elderly.

    Salt is an essential nutrient, and the science does not support the theory that salt reductions will improve Americans’ health. The FDA should halt this process immediately.


    January 19th, 2012 1:50 pm Reply
  • Beth

    Some tips on posting your comments successfully:

    You can submit comments online at:;D=FDA-2011-N-0400-0038

    The government’s online system can be difficult to navigate and there is a time limit. We encourage you to write your comments and save them in a document on your computer, then copy and paste them into the online comment form. Also, although only some of the information fields are marked as being “required,” some people have experienced problems when they left fields blank. So for the fields that are not required, you may wish to put “NA” (not applicable) in them to avoid potential problems. For the “Category” field, use “individual consumer” if no other title describes you.

    You can also mail your comments to: Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and
    Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. All comments must include the agency name (FDA) and the docket number (FDA-2011-N-0400).

    NOTE: The comment box only allows for 2,000 characters (the sample comments above are about 1,000 characters). If you want to write longer comments, you should save them in a .doc or .pdf file to upload as an attachment

    DEADLINE: Friday, January 27, 2012

    January 19th, 2012 1:49 pm Reply
  • Homemaker

    Meg, there are Celtic sea salt individual packets. I believe they are on their website.

    January 19th, 2012 1:42 pm Reply
  • Amanda (@greenutahmama)

    Studies Suggest Low Salt Diets Are Deadly

    January 19th, 2012 1:22 pm Reply
  • Kelli

    Completely ridiculous that the FDA is not differentiating between real salt and processed salt! Besides containing many important minerals, salt is also necessary for fluid retention so you don’t get dehydrated (another silent epidemic in the US).

    January 19th, 2012 12:53 pm Reply
  • Ildikó Nagy (@CeriumCom)

    Please read it, thanks.

    January 19th, 2012 12:50 pm Reply
  • Meg Logan

    It seems to me that those of us on the Traditional Foods diets will not be affected by this FDA regulation. After reading the first part of the FDA call for public commentary, it would seem that they are focused on reducing the salt in prepared foods, like Campbells Soups, and restaurant fare. If indeed children’s school lunches will be lower salt, perhaps concerned parents ought to send their child to school with salt packets. (And SOMEONE ought to create sea salt packets!)

    Anyhow, the FDA is incapable of keeping attentive Americans away from salt. We’ll just continue to buy our sea salt at the store, and salt liberally, our foods made at home. It sure isn’t healthy for Americans on the SAD diet to consume massive amounts of iodized salt, people CAN have too much salt. Salt is ideally kept in homeostasis, neither too high, nor too low. And after all the decrying of iodized salt, one would think that lowering the salt content of things like Fast Food Fries and bacon, might not be so terrible.

    I certainly can’t suggest that adding a neurotoxin to foods to compensate would be a good plan. But as much as possible, people should not be eating processed foods to begin with. I think that continuing to support a traditional foods diet will circumvent this salt issue altogether. Let the FDA do as they will…. they will anyway… No amount of public outcry is going to stop them from filling their pockets with the filthy money of Big Pharma.

    January 19th, 2012 12:22 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Yes, we WILL ALL be affected. Small artisanal cheesemakers would have to restrict salt in their products as well. Fermented foods too. This is a big deal. Please do comment on the FDA form.

      January 19th, 2012 12:29 pm Reply
      • Jennifer

        The idea that the salt taken out of any food and replaced with a chemical without studies on the adverse side effects is a problem for everyone whether you eat processed food or not.

        January 19th, 2012 3:04 pm Reply
      • Sally Harney

        I cant seem to find the right document to make a comment on. What wording should be put onto the search in order to locate the suggested regulation?

        October 5th, 2013 8:27 am Reply
    • Isabel

      Celtic sea salt already sells salt packets they also sell little refillable bamboo containers that you can pour your salt into and just keep in your purse. That doesn’t solve the problem though.

      January 23rd, 2012 12:33 am Reply
    • Trudy James

      Spice Lab’s Pink Himalayan Salt packets

      January 29th, 2013 12:53 pm Reply
  • jacque

    I am living this. Years ago found out was allergic to shellfish…leading to the stay away from iodine theory…leading to non iodized salt. Then borderline hi B/P issues came about leading me to no salt diet. I enjoyed the natural taste of foods so this wasn’t hard for me. Well, I bet you guessed next…hypothyroidism. Given a life sentence of levothyroxine dose, I was led to do more research. I now only use Celtic salt trying to aid in replacing so many essential minerals that the years ago train wreck began. Research has led me to correct the fact that shellfish allergy doesn’t mean iodine allergy. MD’s were wrong. Fortunately, my family has been intervened with the good salt. Hopefully, no errors from a low salt/iodine free diet has harmed my 12 & 14 yr old. The table salt is not healthy for anyhow. Thanks to people like you teaching us. Thank you Sarah and The Westin A Price Foundation.

    January 19th, 2012 11:22 am Reply
  • Brenda

    I thought it was pretty well established in the real food community that processed salt is “bad” for us because it is stripped of minerals and other things that are naturally suppose to be in salt. I constantly hear that have Celtic sea salt, Himalayan Sea Salt or Real Salt from Utah etc. are what is really healthy for us. I thought there was article about this is Wise Traditions. So I am surprised there is no mention of this here. Or is it that processed salt is better than no salt at all?

    January 19th, 2012 12:03 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      From listening to the Salt Guru at Wise Traditions, sodium in food is really not bad after all. Of course, the mineral loaded sea salt such as you describe is ideal, but it seems that a diet including processed sodium (not sea salt) is better than a diet which is restricted in sodium.

      January 19th, 2012 12:28 pm Reply
      • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

        For people who subsist primarily on processed food, FDA restriction of sodium in those processed foods could prove deadly. Surely, processed foods are no good, but let’s not get utopian about this situation. The reality is that most people don’t get it about Real Food and are still eating garbage most of the time. Restricting the sodium on all that processed stuff they’re eating will make it (is it possible?) even worse!

        January 19th, 2012 12:31 pm Reply
  • HealthyHomeEconomist (@HealthyHomeEcon) (@HealthyHomeEcon) (@HealthyHomeEcon) (@HealthyHomeEcon)

    Studies Suggest Low Salt Diets Are Deadly

    January 19th, 2012 10:03 am Reply

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