There are various reasons why you may be experiencing salt cravings. These can range from years of having a diet rich in sodium, which has lead to a desensitization of your taste buds, to a mineral deficiency. By taking a good look at your diet, you can help determine if the salt cravings are due to your eating habits or due to something more serious.
Dangers of Excessive Sodium
On average, Americans consume approximately 15 pounds of salt per year. This is above average compared to other developed nations. This level of sodium causes retention of fluid, which can lead to hypertension, high blood pressure and osteoporosis.
#1- Table Salt
The most common source of sodium in the average diet is table salt. You may not be aware, but a teaspoon of salt contains 2,000 mg of sodium. This is almost your entire daily recommended dose. Therefore, if you are using a teaspoon of salt as a seasoning at each meal, you are greatly exceeding your daily recommended salt intake. Table salt may be unknowingly increasing your daily salt intake, which can lead to salt cravings.
#2- Hidden Salt Sources
While you may have tried to cut back on adding unnecessary salt to foods when cooking or at the table, there are many other food sources that have a surprisingly high amount of salt. Natural foods, such as vegetables, dairy products and meat, all contain sodium. A serving of milk has 375 mg of sodium and a serving of cottage cheese has 475 mg of sodium. On days where you do not consume as many foods with hidden sources of sodium, you may experience elevated salt cravings.
#3- Prepackaged Foods
Salt acts like an excellent preservative. Due to this, most prepackaged and canned goods are higher in sodium compared to their fresh versions. The most salt-laden prepackaged foods are frozen dinners, soups, salad dressings, sauces, such as ketchup and soy sauce, and cured meats. It is possible that your salt cravings are connected to these convenient foods.
#4- Fast Food
According to the Journal of Human Nutrition and Diet, a source of salt cravings may be too much fast food. In a study, individuals who regularly frequented fast food restaurants also consistently needed salt to season their foods. This is because the high sodium levels in fast food are desensitizing individuals to salt. After eating this type of salty food regularly, your body develops a preference to extra salty foods.
As you can see, your diet may often be the cause for salt cravings. To reduce these cravings, gradually wean yourself off of high sodium foods and try to avoid seasoning your food with unnecessary amounts of salt. After 4 to 6 weeks, salt cravings typically disappear and food will taste just as good, even without the additional salt.