Diet and Food Myths


Today is Part 4 of Diet Myths Debunked.

Diet Myth # 4

Salt and Cholesterol Are Bad For Me? Right?

If the information out there is confusing on fat, carbohydrates, and proteins it gets even murkier with regard to both salt and cholesterol.


The human body needs a daily intake of salt. The question is how much. The dietary guidelines I found ranged from a low of 2400 all the way up to 4000 milligrams.

Chemically salt is sodium chloride, both essential minerals the body needs. Salt helps maintain fluids in our cells, and is used to transfer information between nerves and muscles, among other functions. Our body does not make salt so we must get it from external sources.

The big problem it seems is not the salt we add to our food during cooking or at the table, but hidden sources of salt.  Items such as frozen foods, packaged foods, and canned foods use a great deal of salt to preserve the food and make it safe to eat. Even cereals often have lots of salt. Fast foods have extremely high salt content.

Seems to boil down to salt is good for us in moderate quantities.


I could have dealt with this topic under Myth #1 – fat – since cholesterol is a type of fat. But it is such a hot topic I wanted to deal with it separately. And like fat, carbohydrates, and protein, cholesterol in and of itself is not bad.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that occurs naturally in all parts of the body. In fact, cholesterol is found in every single cell in our bodies and in many hormones. Some cholesterol is created naturally in the body; some comes from the food we eat.

There is good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL.)

Foods high in cholesterol include: steak, eggs, mac & cheese, ice cream, pork, veal, fish, organ meat. In other words, just about everything! In other words, all the good stuff we love!!

And here is where it gets interesting. Or confusing.  We could stop eating foods high in saturated or animal fat. But when we do that, as we briefly examined in Myth #1,  we end up craving high-calorie sugar laden carbohydrates from such foods as pasta, potatoes, and bread. And, again as we explored in Myth #1, we then eat more of these foods because  we deprive our bodies of fat. Then we will start to gain weight. Remember it is total caloric intake that increases weight. And to make matters even more complicated, eating carbs actually lowers the levels of HDL, the good cholesterol.

‘Tis a puzzlement.

So what are we to do? Fat, including cholesterol is good and bad for us. Carbs are good and bad for us. Protein is good, but moderation is important there too. Same for salt.

What can we eat?  Are we supposed to stop eating everything?

Next post I will deal with this important question.

DISCLAIMER: The information for this very brief discussion of an extremely complicated topic was gathered from the following sources:  American Heart Association, Medline Plus, Mayo Clinic and from the books:  Eat Drink and Be Merry by Dr. Dean Erdell  published by Harper Collins 1999; and The Fat Fallacy by Dr. Will Clower published by Three Rivers Press 2003. Please keep in mind I am not a dietician or a nutritionist. I just love to eat well. And I just write a simple blog trying to provide inexpensive yet delicious recipes for you, information about how to survive the recession, and helpful information about food and the joys of eating. [print_this]

Featured Recipe               Meal In a Packet

This recipe is made for tough times like recessions. It uses just basic pantry food items. It is classic ‘cheap eats.’ Plus this is one of those recipes you can put together when time is short and you feel rushed. It is super easy to cook up.

It is also a great recipe to involve your children with cooking. Once the potato and onion are sliced even very young children can help assemble the packets. You could even have an assembly line.

Here is what you will need for 4 people:

1 pound ground chuck

1 large onion sliced

1 large potato sliced

1 can cream of mushroom soup

S&P to taste

Here is what you do:

Make 4 hamburgers; salt and pepper the hamburgers.

Cut both the potato and the onion into slices.

Add one or two slices of onion on top of each burger.

Than add a slice or two of potato.

Top all with a tablespoon or two of the soup.

Wrap and fold the foil securely over each burger.

Bake on a foil-lined baking sheet at 350 for about 45 minutes.

Let the foil packets cool down a bit before you begin to open them. They will be very hot and the soup will have become runny. I plate the burgers using a spatula and then pour the soup over.

Serve with a vegetable and a salad or lots of fruit. I served mine up with left-over Hungarian Noodles and Cabbage and a Strawberry and Rainier Cherry Salad. I went to the Strawberry Festival in Newark this past weekend. The strawberries I got there were SO sweet and delicious. I had the Rainier cheeries from my last trip to the store. I have a real weakness for Rainier Cherries. These were the first of the seaon and I made an impulse buy. It was the right decision. They were wonderful. It was a perfect pairing in this fruit salad!


1 pound ground chuck                       $2.34

1 large onion sliced                          $.055

1 large potato sliced                         $0.64

1 can cream of mushroom soup        $1.19

S&P to taste

Total cost = $4.72
Cost per person = $1.18

[/print_this]Bon Appetite.

“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”  ~ Abraham Lincoln

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