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Originally published April 22, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 22, 2007 at 2:01 AM

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The People's Pharmacy

"Lite" salt might not be right for everyone

Q: I try to limit my family's salt intake, because high blood pressure runs in my husband's family. I found Morton Lite Salt at the store...

Syndicated columnists

Q: I try to limit my family's salt intake, because high blood pressure runs in my husband's family. I found Morton Lite Salt at the store. The package says it has "half the sodium of table salt ... , can be used in all your recipes just like regular salt with the same great results. It cooks the same, bakes the same ... " All of that sounds perfect.

But it also says, "For normal healthy people. Not to be used by persons on sodium or potassium restricted diets unless approved by a physician."

What if I'm making something for guests, and I don't know the medical status of everyone who might consume some?

A: You have found a reasonable way to cut back on sodium when cooking for your family without giving up the taste of salt entirely.

Guests who must restrict their intake of sodium more completely should be polite enough to tell you that before they arrive for dinner.

Q: Your column often covers high-cholesterol issues. Why don't you mention the value of adding a daily dose of organic apple-cider vinegar as a great way of reducing cholesterol?

It's tasty and a lot cheaper and safer than the medicines the pharmaceutical industry pushes on us.

A: Apple-cider vinegar is a traditional remedy that is often suggested for lowering cholesterol. A Japanese study has shown that acetic acid (vinegar) added to the diet can lower cholesterol and triglycerides in rats (British Journal of Nutrition, May 2006). We have not seen such a study in humans, however.

Q: My husband was diagnosed with diverticulitis. He now avoids seeds and nuts, but a different doctor says food has very little impact. I now give him lots of fruit, yogurt and acidophilus milk, and he is taking FiberCon daily. Is there anything else that might help?

A: Your husband might want to try probiotics (good bacteria). Such products can be purchased under refrigeration in health-food stores. A recent study found that a combination of anti-inflammatory medicine and probiotic VSL3 worked better in recovery from diverticulitis than either treatment alone (International Journal of Colorectal Disease online, March 28, 2007).

Q : I just wanted you to know that I read your column recently about the power of green olives fighting hiccups. My 5-year-old got the hiccups the next day. Guess what? One green olive did the trick.

A: We're delighted to learn that this unusual remedy worked for your child.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them c/o King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail them at pharmacy@mindspring.com or via their Web site: www.peoplespharmacy.org.

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