Could Salt Actually Not Be Harmful to Your Health?

Playing Salt: Healthy or Harmful?

For decades, high-salt diets have been deemed bad for our health, but according to new evidence, it could actually be good for you. The Doctors examine the real deal behind salt.

We are joined by "The Salt Fix" author Dr. James DiNicolantonio and cardiologist Dr. Nieca Goldberg to debate whether salt is healthy or harmful.

Dr. DiNicolantonio points to the countries that eat the most salt -- Japan, South Korea, and France -- which also have the lowest rates of heart disease and live the longest. He explains that salt intake is controlled by the body and believes we should be listening to our cravings for salt, which he believes leads to better health. He uses an example of someone who exercises regularly and says he does not believe they should be cutting their salt intake, as they expel and process the salt when exercising.

Watch: Sea Salt vs. Table Salt - Is One Healthier?

Dr. Goldberg notes that the countries which were studied have a much different diet and lifestyle compared to the average American. She points out that Americans consume more processed foods, which are often loaded with sodium. She believes we can't glamorize salt and believes the whole body and what we put in it needs to be examined when it comes to salt intake. She contends that high-salt diets cause approximately 57,000 deaths per year.

"In a way, it's not the salt that is the issue. It's the other white crystal -- sugar. And sugar can actually cause people to people to over-retain salt. So a lot of people can cut the sugar and fix their quote-unquote high blood pressure," Dr. DiNicolantonio continues, adding, "People need to eat real food and consume real salts and I'm not advocating eating processed foods."

Dr. Goldberg points out that 75 percent of the sodium we consume is determined by the food industry, processed foods, and restaurants and only 5 percent of the salt we eat is from the shaker.

Watch: Which Is Worse: Salt or Sugar?

ER physician Dr. Travis Stork sees both sides of the debate and acknowledges that both a very low and a very high-salt diet have negative and positive effects. The Doctors takeaway: people eating processed foods need to be more concerned with their salt intake, while those eating clean and organic can salt to taste a little more liberally. 

The Doctors note you should always check with your healthcare professional before beginning any diet.