While it is common knowledge that excessive salt is bad for you many do not understand the physiology of it . We have distilled some very relevant information here that we hope is helpful for you.
We can note that salt and sodium are not the same. Salt is made up of sodium and chlorine (chemical name: "sodium chloride"). But there are other forms of sodium in food, including baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and food additives, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium nitrite, and sodium benzoate. Any form of sodium adds to your intake, but salt makes up about 90% of the sodium you get.
Second.. sodium isn't all bad. It is used to bind and stabilize ingredients and as a preservative, flavor enhancer, and color enhancer.
The human body needs some sodium to work right. Sodium helps control your blood pressure, blood volume, and the balance of other fluids in your body. It also helps with your nerves and muscles.
But your body needs only 180 mg to 500 mg a day. That's less than the amount in 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
In an average diet only about 6% of our daily sodium comes from salt added at the table. About 5% comes from salt added during cooking. Only 12% is from foods with natural sources of sodium while up to an estimated 75% comes from processed or restaurant foods. The easiest way to cut down on sodium is to eat more home-cooked meals made from fresh ingredients.
By far, the biggest health problem caused by a high-salt diet is high blood pressure. On average, the more salt you get, the more likely you are to have high blood pressure. High blood pressure raises your risk for stroke, kidney problems, heart failure, blindness, and heart attacks.
You can help counter the bad effects of a high-salt diet with physical activity. Studies show that the more active you are, the less your blood pressure rises from a high-salt diet. So if you are not active, you need to be even more careful about eating less salt.
Too much salt can have bad effects on the heart, kidneys, and blood vessels. According to the CDC, too much sodium can raise your risk of having heart attack or a stroke.
The American Heart Association says adults should limit their sodium to less than 1,500 mg per day. That's equal to about 2/3 of a teaspoon of salt. On average, Americans get more than 3,400 mg of sodium per day, or the amount in about 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.
Certain people are more prone to high blood pressure or at risk from its effects. For these groups -- including people 51 or older, African-Americans, and people who have high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease --1,500 mg per day is the recommended maximum amount of sodium. Some people may need to get even less.
Men eat more sodium than women, mainly because they eat more food. On average, men eat between 3,100 mg and 4,700 mg of sodium per day; women eat between 2,300 mg and 3,100 mg. Dietary guidelines also recommend 2,300 mg for healthy people age 2 to 50.
It can take a while to adjust to a low-salt diet. Salt is an acquired taste, but most of us acquired it as children. As adults, after years of eating overly salted foods, we have to make a big effort to changing our tastes. Experts say it takes about 8 to 12 weeks.
Table salt, sea salt, and kosher salt are all the same thing: sodium chloride. And they all have the same sodium content (40%). The differences are primarily in texture and taste.
Table salt is made from rock salt harvested from inland deposits (with iodine sometimes added as an extra nutrient). Kosher salt is made from similar sources, but it's usually additive-free and has a coarser texture. Sea salt, as its name suggests, is harvested from evaporated seawater. Consequently, it has a slightly different flavor. In the end, though, they all contribute equally to your total sodium consumption.
Food labeling rules allow up to 5 mg per serving in a product labeled "sodium-free." Products labeled "very low-sodium” are allowed to have up to 35 mg per serving. "Low-sodium" means 140 mg or less. "Reduced sodium" means the usual sodium level has been cut by at least 25%. "Unsalted," "without added salt," and “no salt added” mean that it contains no extra salt beyond the amount that occurs naturally in the food..
Adjust your salt intake to improve your overall health… An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
C. Gilman Jones