Knowing salt health effects and salt health risks are important to anyone over the age of 40.
As your number of candles increase on your birthday cake, something else rises: health risks.
You become more prone to develop disease.
One of the greatest risks is for high blood pressure, which is directly related to salt and sodium intake.
Before you cut out every bit of salt from your diet, it’s important to learn the salt health effects and salt health risks.
There actually are some health benefits of salt, but these health benefits are due to the sodium in the salt, not the salt itself.
Salt Health Effects And Health Benefits Of Salt
Here’s a list of what sodium (not sodium chloride – salt) does in the body:
‣ Along with potassium, sodium regulates the acid-base balance in the body, maintaining the pH of the blood where it’s supposed to be.
‣ Along with potassium, sodium regulates water balance in the body.
‣ Important for muscles to contract.
‣ Important for nerves to function.
‣ Necessary for hydrochloric acid production in the stomach.
‣ Helps purge carbon dioxide in the body.
Salt Health Risks
Clinical studies show that low sodium diets can benefit high blood pressure, blurred vision, toxemia from bacterial poisoning, swelling and protein in the urine.
In a recent study, New Zealand researchers wanted to see what would happen if people with high blood pressure who were on a low sodium diet went back to eating salt.
Would their blood pressure rise?
The answer was yes, it did rise and so did something called pulse wave velocity, a measure of the stiffness of the arteries.
It’s detrimental to those who have high blood pressure to consume a lot of salt.
How Much Salt Is Too Much?
But what’s a lot of salt? Researchers estimate that the average person consumes 10 to 12 grams salt per day, twice as much as what is recommended by the World Health Organization. (Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2009)
This amount is equal to about 4 teaspoons. Many health experts in the U.S. recommend an amount far less – only 2 grams daily and some go as low as 1500 mg per day.
When dietary sodium levels are less than 1500 mg per day, you can expect blood pressure to drop 11.4 mm Hg in the top number (systolic blood pressure) and 5.5 mm Hg in the bottom number (diastolic blood pressure).
This is equal to only one teaspoon or less per day, an amount that includes sodium in food, not just salt added to foods.
The average type of salt contains anywhere from 1100 mg up to 2400 mg sodium in just a teaspoon.
For example, If your blood pressure is 150/85, it would fall to 139/80. A blood pressure reading of 150/85 is considered high blood pressure; 139/80 is borderline. The difference is the prescription of blood pressure medication.
How We Eat Too Much Salt And Sodium
It’s also estimated that about 80 per cent of the salt in the diet comes from processed foods, thus foods such as the ones on the list below should be avoided if you tend to have high blood pressure:
- Processed cheese
- Processed meats
- Processed cereals
- Processed soups
- Packaged foods
- Pasta sauces
- Gravies, pre-made
- Salad dressings
- Bouillon cubes
This actually makes it easier to cut the salt down in one’s diet, and reduce salt health risks.
To make things more complicated, different salts contain different amounts of sodium in them.
|Type of Salt||Sodium in ½ teaspoon||Sodium in 1 teaspoon|
|Morton kosher salt||960 mg||1920 mg sodium|
|Trader Joe’s Kosher Salt||1460 mg||2920 mg sodium|
|Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt||560 mg||1120 mg|
This tells us not to generalize and read labels constantly, no matter what we are buying. If we like a little salt on our foods, it’s best to choose salt varieties with less sodium.
How To Tell If A Food Is A Salt Health Risk
You may often see salt listed on the ingredients of a food. The next thing to do is to look at the label to read how much sodium is in one serving.
After that, look for sodium preservatives and chemicals such as the following:
Foods That Are Salt Health Risks
‣ Monosodium Glutamate (used in canned meats, Chinese foods)
‣ Sodium Sulfite (used as a preservative in dried fruits)
‣ Sodium Nitrite (especially found in processed meats)
‣ Sodium Alginate (used as a binding agent)
‣ Sodium Propionate (used in breads)
‣ Sodium Hydroxide (used as a base)
Here’s a list of some specific foods with the highest sources of sodium, along with the amount of sodium in them:
|Caviar||623 mg sodium/ounce|
|Canadian Bacon||1197 mg / 3 ounce|
|Ham, cured, canned||837 mg / 3 ounces|
|Canned chick peas||300 mg / ½ cup|
|Baking powder||1000 mg / teaspoon|
Some cans of soup on the market have over 850 mg sodium in just one serving!
Don’t let food manufacturers throw you off track because they want to put their product in the limelight.
850 mg sodium per serving is way more than what the body can handle at any one meal from just one food!
And it adds up too fast to the total for the day, pushing our arteries over the limit of what they can handle.
Signs That Your Blood Pressure May Be High
There aren’t very many signs or symptoms that a person has high blood pressure.
Some people may feel as if they have a headache while others feel angry for no reason at all. This inner anger is the result of excessive neural tone in the nervous system from high levels of noradrenaline.
That’s why it’s called the Hidden Killer.
Salt can be a killer, if you eat too much and experience the salt health risks. But it also can be a savior if you eat salt for the sake of salt benefits.