Salt can be hard to avoid when you eat non-stop or opt for dishes prepared for a quick dinner, but how bad is it for you?
The mineral is vital for the nerves and muscles of the body to work, but too much can cause high blood pressure and increase the risk of fatal heart disease.
The NHS recommends that adults do not eat more than 6 g of salt per day, but many people may be eating more without realizing it because it is hidden in many foods.
And there's a reason: it quickly adds flavor to even the softest foods, but your body can get used to it and demand increasing amounts to enjoy the food.
If the food becomes tasteless even when you know there is a lot of salt, you may be eating too much.
But if you do not eat enough, you may end up feeling sick or dizzy, or having muscle cramps.
Nutritionist May Simpkin writes for Healthist to take a look at the pros and cons of eating salt and explains how to decide how much you can eat:
The NHS recommends that adults eat no more than 6 g of salt per day, approximately the amount in four slices of bacon, because too much can cause high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart problems.
If you ask the French, they (or any decent cook worthwhile) could tell you that a pinch of salt highlights the taste of a dish. So, how much is a lot?
Many processed foods and prepared foods are notoriously high in salt and although many will claim to be "delicious" and "tasty", most of the time, this is due to the high salt content of the food, rather than the quality and amount of salt. ingredients with full flavor.
When you cook from scratch, it's easy to control the amount of salt you add to your food.
But when you opt for regularly prepared meals, you not only lose this control, but you also adjust your palate to expect a high salt flavor.
There is even a lot of salt hidden in foods that would not always be expected to be high in salt, for example, bread and breakfast cereals.
It takes about 10 days to adjust the taste buds, so it will not be long before you enjoy your meals with a more moderate amount of salt.
According to the NHS, the maximum recommended salt intake is 6 g per day, the equivalent of one teaspoon.
A leading study at McMaster University recently published in The Lancet now shows an associated risk of cardiovascular disease only when the average intake is more than 5 g of sodium per day, the equivalent of 1.5 to 2.5 teaspoons of salt.
The advice of the World Health Organization cautiously recommends less than 2 g of sodium as a preventive measure against cardiovascular diseases.
In addition, The American Heart Association recommends even less; 1.5 g of sodium per day for those at risk of heart disease.
This research found that not only was there no direct link between sodium intake and heart conditions, such as heart attacks and strokes, but there was also an inversely related association, that is, no increase in strokes and decrease of cardiovascular events.
The study concludes that "there is no convincing evidence that people with moderate or average sodium intake need to reduce their sodium intake for the prevention of heart disease and stroke."
A study on the effects of salt on people at risk of having a heart attack or stroke found that there is no evidence to suggest that people at risk need to eat significantly less than normal
While this may be encouraging news, it is important that we understand what "moderate" or "average" salt intake actually refers to.
And, in addition, how the consumption of salt differs from the sodium intake.
Salt is added to many foods, including bread, cakes and cookies, to enhance flavor and some foods may contain very high amounts of salt.
To confuse the consumer, sometimes manufacturers will use sodium on the label instead of salt.
Many will know that the chemical name of the salt is sodium chloride and, as such, contains both sodium and chloride.
Only about 40 percent of the weight of the salt contains sodium, so multiply this amount by 2.5 to establish the actual salt content.
Therefore, 2.4 mg of sodium equals about one teaspoon or 6 g of salt per day; the recommendation of the government of the United Kingdom.
Can you see now how labels that only list the sodium content can be deceptive?
What is the role of salt in our body? In fact, it is a crucial electrolyte that maintains the correct balance of fluids in and out of cells.
Along with potassium, sodium from salt will help ensure that nerve transmission, muscle contractions and many other functions can take place.
In other words, sodium is essential for the body to function.
The more sodium we have in our body, the more water it attracts and it is for this reason that too much salt can cause high blood pressure (the more water your body retains in the blood, the more pressure inside the body).
With high blood pressure, the heart has to work harder to ensure that blood is pumped throughout the body, causing increased strain on the arteries and organs in doing so.
Therefore, high blood pressure is considered an important risk factor for many health conditions, including heart disease and stroke.
Studies show that reducing sodium intake can lower blood pressure.
A 2013 study involving 3,230 participants reported that a modest reduction in salt intake for four weeks or more resulted in a significant decrease in blood pressure, both in individuals with high and normal blood pressure.
Salt damages many body systems and increases the risk of death
Around 400,000 deaths from heart disease were associated with high sodium diets in 2015.
Most agencies recommend eating three quarters of a teaspoon of salt per day, but the average American eats 50 percent more than that.
A bag of chips the size of an individual represents between seven and 12 percent of the daily sodium intake, so a diet high in salt would equate to eating more than eight bags a day.
The balance of fluids and sodium in the body is crucial for homeostasis, which keeps the systems operating in sync.
When there is too much sodium in our systems, our bodies retain excess liquid to try to balance the salt.
The fluid causes the heart to work harder to pump blood, which leads to higher blood pressure.
High blood pressure, in turn, increases the risks of stroke and heart disease.
Higher blood pressure also makes it more difficult for the heart to push blood that carries oxygen to various organs, including the brain, which leads to cognitive decreases.
However, when this study was conducted, the government recommendations were higher at around 9-12 g per day, whereas now it has been reduced to 6 g per day, which the study recommends should become a long-term goal term for salt intake.
On this basis, it seems that 6g per day would be an appropriate recommendation.
However, although reducing salt intake may reduce the risk factors for developing a disease, it is not enough on its own.
It will vary from person to person and may depend on a number of lifestyle factors, such as diet, smoking and exercise levels.
It can be surprisingly easy to load your sodium intake without realizing it.
After all, if you're going to dine on pizza or a hamburger meal or other takeaway options, you're probably eating a lot more sodium than you think.
You probably feel incredibly thirsty as your body struggles to maintain its water balance.
Your body is alerting you that there is not enough water to keep the amount of sodium in your body, so your brain will receive a signal that it needs more water.
Swelling and water retention are also common signs of eating too much salt.
With too much sodium in the body, the fluid is forced out of the cells and into the blood to withstand these excessive levels.
Swelling around the area of the abdomen is more common, but you may also notice that the fingers and toes are a little more swollen.
Headaches can also be triggered after a meal rich in salt; As the blood vessels in the brain swell due to excess fluid in the cells, this can cause pain in the form of a headache.
While you will lose a moderate amount of sodium throughout the day when you sweat or urinate, these will be easily replaced by the foods you eat, with a varied and balanced diet.
However, if you try too hard, excessive sweating can lead to an excessive loss of sodium.
In addition, you can continue to reduce your sodium levels by drinking too much water (as is often the case during a resistance exercise activity) and diluting your concentration.
While this will be an extreme situation to be found, it is worth noting the symptoms that this will trigger, such as nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, light-headedness in a mild situation.
It is better to drink more constantly during the day instead of drinking large quantities at one time.
Many recommendations regarding exercise suggest that you should replace the loss of sodium with sweating during exercise.
In fact, many endurance athletes can also consume much larger amounts of salt or any other electrolyte supplement (many sports drinks claim to contain electrolytes) that contain sodium during training and competition, in the belief that they can help improve performance .
The body loses sodium, which comes from eating salt, through sweating when exercising, but athletes should be cautious when replenishing their sodium levels, because too much can be unhealthy.
The researchers discovered that, in fact, this does not hinder or help the performance.
Ensuring a moderate consumption of sodium is probably more advisable and athletes should be careful when considering sodium supplements, to minimize other risk factors for health.
With a variety of salts now featured in the spice aisles, choosing a salt now requires more than just taking a look!
Pink Himalaya, sea salt, salt flakes, celery salt are just some of the names on offer and these have become fashionable alternatives to the original table salt that was once simple and easy to take.
While they may seem more interesting and may be considered less processed, do they actually offer any additional health benefits?
WHAT ARE PROCESSED FOODS?
A processed food has been altered in some way during its preparation.
This can be by freezing, canning, cooking or drying.
Examples include breakfast cereals, cakes, chips, microwave meals, pastries, bread and canned vegetables.
Processed foods are not necessarily unhealthy unless you add sugar, salt or fat to make them more palatable or extend their shelf life.
This can lead to people eating more than the recommended amount of sugar, salt and fat a day since they do not know the levels in processed foods.
People can reduce their consumption by reading nutritional labels on processed products to check their fat, salt and sugar content.
Cooking food from scratch also gives people more control over their diets.
It is worth noting that some healthy foods require processing, such as pressing olives to make oil.
Source: NHS Choices
Table salt is the most common and is harvested in underground salt deposits. It is highly refined to remove impurities and, as a result, most of the trace elements and elements have also been removed.
It will also contain an anti-caking agent to improve its appearance and flow.
Some varieties will have iodine added as a preventive measure against iodine deficiency, which is often a problem in many communities, due to modern methods of vegetable production and inadequate levels in the soil.
The lack of iodine can cause thyroid problems, among other health problems.
Sea salt will be harvested from evaporated seawater and is usually not refined and is thicker than table salt.
Therefore, it will contain some additional minerals such as potassium, zinc and iron, making it a slightly more nutritious option. It also has a deeper flavor as a result.
When it comes to salt from the Himalayas, it is harvested with minimal processing in the mines of the Himalayas and is rich in numerous natural minerals and trace elements such as calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium, which the body needs.
Its pink color is due to traces of iron oxide or rust.
As such, there may be a benefit to eating this salt richer in nutrients, unlike a highly processed table salt, which lacks natural minerals. It is also lower in sodium.
In any case, it is worth bearing in mind that the mineral content in these salts are minimal and insignificant amounts compared to the amounts found in the food.
It is more important that you consider the type you use to add flavor and flavor instead of your nutritional benefit.
Of course, when it comes to adding flavor, there are a number of alternatives that can be as tasty and even healthier than using excessive amounts of salt.
Garlic and ginger provide a sharp flavor and aroma that will enhance any food, just like lemon; Try the lemon trick before adding salt, you can really add flavor.
Nutritionist May Simpkin suggests using garlic, ginger or herbs and spices to flavor your food instead of salt: they can be healthier and healthier alternatives
Many herbs such as rosemary, basil, sage, thyme, dill and coriander are delicious aromatic additions, while spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cumin, paprika, turmeric and chilli infuse spicy flavors into savory and sweet dishes.
The final result is the following: if you eat mostly unprocessed whole foods, it is not a problem to add some salt to your meals, as long as your general intake is moderate.
If your food stops tasting good despite the salt you are adding, it is likely that your taste buds have become accustomed to a very salty taste and have become less receptive to other flavors. So cut it.
This article originally appeared in Healthist and is being reproduced with your permission.