Salt intake: Is it good or bad for you?

Salt contributes a large part to cuisines around the world and is one of the most sought after substance. It is an inexpensive wonder that takes any dish to the next level if added during cooking or added at the table having food. Today, let us explore the good and the bads of salt intake in this section.

There is various salts type available around the world; however, sea salt and table salt are the most used in households. Sea salt is obtained directly through the evaporation of seawater. It is usually not processed, or undergoes minimal processing, and therefore retains trace levels of minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium, and other nutrients.

Table salt, on the other hand, is mined from salt deposits and then processed to give it a fine texture so it’s easier to mix and use in recipes. This processing strips table salt of any minerals and additives may be used to prevent clumping.

Benefits of natural salt

Salt is a crystalline mineral chemically known as Sodium Chloride (NaCl); 40% sodium and 60% chloride, by weight. Salt functions as both preservatives and flavorings and is not merely tongue’s tempting but considered one of the five basic human tastes.

However, it is crucial to consume the right quantity of salt daily to get maximum benefits to one’s health. Few are mentioned below;

  1. Helps you stay Hydrated
  2. Promotes cardiovascular health
  3. Smoothens digestion
  4. Balances electrolytes – Without sufficient electrolytes, you can experience nausea, fatigue, or even heartbeat.
  5. Helps the thyroid function properly
  6.  Improves Sleep

Salt Intake

Salt is already present in almost every food that we eat every day.  It is naturally available in all foods but at low levels. However, processed food has a high amount of it. For instance, salty chips, biscuits, and almost all the packaged items. Do not get surprised knowing your sweet deserts also contain salt.

Some food labels may only state the sodium content. Don’t confuse salt and sodium figures (1). To convert sodium to salt, you need to multiply the sodium amount by 2.5. For example, 1g of sodium per 100g is 2.5 grams of salt per 100g.

Adults – Adults should eat no more than 6g of salt a day (2.4g sodium) – that’s around 1 teaspoon.

Children – The maximum amount of salt children should depend on their age:

• Babies under 1-year-old – less than 1g of salt a day
• 1 to 3 years – 2g salt a day (0.8g sodium)
• 4 to 6 years – 3g salt a day (1.2g sodium)
• 7 to 10 years – 5g salt a day (2g sodium)
• 11 years and over – 6g salt a day (2.4g sodium)

Tips for Babies 

Babies shouldn’t eat much salt, because their kidneys are not fully developed to process it. If a baby is breastfed, they will get the right amount of minerals, including sodium and chloride, from breast milk.

Don’t add salt to your baby’s milk or food and avoid giving your baby processed foods such as ready meals as these are often high in salt.

Must read – Low sodium levels and remedies

Both low and excess intake is dangerous to health, advised salt intake is moderate. A healthy body requires 1500 mg to 3400 mg of salt every day. More or less is dangerous.

Low intake

There are few chronic diseases you may fall prey to due to a low intake of salt. You cannot try to boycott salt from your food. Its trace is essential in food (2).

Foods that are low in salt- Wheat, Fresh fish, fruits and vegetables, pasta and rice, plain cheese, plain popcorn, yogurt, etc.

1. Lower Blood Pressure – Dehydration can cause low blood pressure. Which can be treated by increasing your fluid and salt intake.

2. Elevated levels of blood cholesterol – Low salt intake leads to elevated bad cholesterol and triglycerides.

3. Type 2 Diabetes – People who are patients of type 2 diabetes if consume less than an advised amount of salt could be fatal.

Excess intake

Out bodies react negatively to excess intake of salt. It impacts the brain, kidneys, heart, and arteries. It can lead to chemical imbalances and then death (3).

Foods that are high in salt- Cheese, salted chips, coated chicken, noodles snacks, pickles, potato snacks, salt fish, Soy sauce, smoked meat, etc.

There are few diseases caused by excess intake of salt as follows;

1. Cardiovascular disease – If exceed the standard daily salt intake would lead to risk the heart. It significantly increases the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.

2. Edema – Swelling of knees or feet and even hands could be due to excess intake. A high sodium diet causes your body to retain water.

3. Stomach cancer – Processed food is always dangerous to health. This kind of food has excess salt which leads you to diseases due to overconsumption.

4. Kidney ailments – The kidneys play a vital role in remove waste products, balance fluid levels, and control the production of red blood cells in your body. Excess intake will weaken the ability of the kidney to monitor these functions.

5. High Blood Pressure – It increases the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) by having a high intake of sodium.

If I put final words, consuming salt with the recommended quantity rips many benefits to our health. However, it could yield adverse results if consumed in low or excess amounts.

Also, salt consumption affects people differently. Therefore, check with your health care provider and follow his advice pin-point.

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