Food additives like sodium chloride, or table salt, can have dangerous health consequences. While you do need to eat a certain amount of salt each day for good health, it’s possible to eat too much salt, and when you do, it can be very bad for your health. Here are some of the reasons why you should minimize sodium chloride in your diet.
Salt Is Necessary in Low Amounts
Your body need some salt in order to function properly. Sodium chloride, or table salt, makes up a big pat of the extracellular fluids in your body. Salt helps your cells take in nutrients. It helps regulate blood pressure, and it keeps adequate amounts of fluids in your body.
Healthy kidneys are able to remove excess salt from the blood, though in doing so they may also leech calcium out of the blood. This can put those who eat too much salt regularly at risk for osteoporosis, as well as the illnesses associated with sodium chloride toxicity.
Doctors recommend that we eat 500 to 1800 mg of salt each day, though it’s possible to eat as much as 2400 mg each day without suffering negative health consequences. However, most Americans eat between 8000 and 9000 mg each day.
Consequences of Sodium Chloride Toxicity
Eating too much salt can cause stomach upsets, and it can cause your kidneys to leech too much calcium out of your blood, leading to osteoporosis, a disease in which bones become fragile and break easily. Eating too much sodium chloride increases your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and heart attack. Overconsumption of sodium chloride makes you retain water and it can increase your appetite, making you overeat and leading to obesity.
Minimizing Salt in Your Diet
It’s important not to eliminate salt from your diet entirely, since your body needs some salt in order to function properly. But doctors prefer you eat no more than 1800 to 2400 mg of salt each day. Here’s how you can minimize your dietary intake of salt.
Avoid processed foods, as they are often high in salt. Fast foods also often have a high salt content. Most restaurants will happily share with you the salt and other nutrient content of their foods. Also avoid dried meats, cheeses and other salty foods. Eat them in small quantities only.
Keep the salt shaker in the cupboard instead of putting it on the table; you’ll find you eat less salt that way, since many people salt food by force of habit. Use a spiced salt, like LoSalt, that combines sodium chloride with herbs, spices and other minerals to provide a salty taste that’s lower in sodium chloride. Cook with seasonings, flavorings and spices that make your food flavorful without the need for excess salt.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, like bananas, that are high in potassium. Potassium neutralizes some of the harmful effects of salt and can help protect you from sodium chloride toxicity.