The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 987: Benefits of Coffee, Tea & Chocolate

Are there benefits from drinking the beverage coffee, tea or cocoa? Do current recommendations on restricting salt make sense for most people?
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Benefits of Coffee, Tea & Chocolate

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Heated disagreements about whether or not Americans all need to reduce their salt intake have reached the Wall Street Journal. Many public health agencies recommend that we cut back on salt to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. But how well does that approach work? We talk with contrarian David McCarron, MD, about whether serious sodium restriction is feasible or even desirable for most of us.

Favorite Hot Drinks

Many of us would be lost without our stimulant beverages: coffee, tea or cocoa. Are these favorite hot drinks undermining our health, or do they offer benefits? We look at the latest research.

We also consider food and drug interactions. What do you need to know?

Call in your questions and comments at 888-472-3366 or email between 7 and 8 am EDT.

This Week’s Guest:

David A. McCarron, MD, is a nephrologist and chaired the Department of Nephrology at Oregon Health Sciences University for two decades. He is now an adjunct professor in the University of California-Davis Department of Nutrition and chairman-elect of the American Society for Nutrition’s Medical/Nutrition Council.

To read Dr. McCarron’s essay in the Wall Street Journal and the opposing viewpoint by Dr. Elliott Antman, President of the American Heart Association and a cardiologist at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, here is a link to the Journal‘s feature: “Are Low-Salt Diets Necessary (or Healthy) for Most People?”

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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I mix cocoa powder with pure stevia and milk powder to make my own hot chocolate mix. Sugar-free and just as good as those commercial mixes. I drink it throughout the day at work instead of coffee.

Because of HBP, I watch my salt intake closely, and was quite surprised a few years ago to find my BP at 212/125. I do not ever use salt. Turns out, I ingested more sodium than I could ever imagine through eating at a new Japanese Buffet in town. I was dipping everything in their delicious “dipping sauce” which was soy sauce with spices. Pure sodium. Lesson learned.

Hi, Someone mentioned sweating above. When I first started going to the sauna several times a week a couple of years ago, my sweat was so intensely salty that I had to leave and wash it out of my eyes many times. Now it is no longer salty, my blood pressure is way down (also made other changes, when n=1, you can’t know what did the trick), but I don’t restrict salt. But to be sure, it was a lot of sweating. Not sure how far you would have to run or how hard the calesthenics to get similar benefits.

My morning drink depends on the weather outside. This past winter, I could not have survived without a mostly every morning cup of hot cocoa, made with organic cacao, organic cane sugar or brown sugar, hot water, a dash of nutmeg, then some coconut “milk.” As for any links between salt and high blood pressure, this is a main problem with western reductionist medicine. Not seeing the forest for the trees. I’ve had hbp for years, lowered naturally only when I spent five years running marathons and many other distances. Recently it was discovered I have infection in the jaw from molars that were “too far gone.” One brave dentist (I went to several trying to find a competent honest dentist) suggested to me that once the infection was resolved, the blood pressure would normalize. Finally, after much research, I concluded that the only solution currently is to have the teeth extracted. A few months after the extractions, my blood pressure has wonderfully normalized. Plus the med I was prescribed for the bp gave me asthma. I found this only by doing my own research on the contra-indications for this drug (metoprolol tartrate). None of the providers even suggested the issue of asthma. At this moment, having stopped the drug a while ago, I feel fine – no asthma symptoms, no high bp. My goal is to move someplace warmer than upstate NY where I can exercise (a walk or a hike) every day and be in the sun every day for Vit D and a healthy mental status.

Salt intake will depend on how much is in the food you eat. I don’t eat salted fish nor much of any canned food, or processed food. I eat lots salad (no salt) fresh steamed vegetables – just a pinch, meat once a fortnight no salt. Soups l/4 teaspoon per 4 bowls.

I also use the unadulterated Pink Himalayan salt need less and tastes great.

Looking forward to the discussion on salt. People eating 10 grams of sodium daily or like the Japanese with lots of salted fish, even more, are risking hypertension and its consequences. The interesting question these days is what is the recommendation for somebody with a normal exam who eats 3 to 4 grams of sodium and has a desk job.
My mother and mother-in-law have 2 to 3 gram sodium intakes and at prominent tertiary care hospitals here in Missouri have been told to decrease their intake. In my mother’s case, she seems weak and at risk of falls since she takes the advice and avoids salt excessively.

Never do we see mentioned the mitigating practice of exercise and sweating …comments please

I’m interested in reading quickly through the text of the recent podcast about salt intake with Dr. David McCarron. I see options to listen to the streaming, or buy the CD . Is there a way to read the transcript of the program?

Radio show starts 7 EDT on Saturday – this one is not finished recording yet and you can call in and be on the show.

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