Salt

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Salt finds its way into our diet in just about everything we eat. Some salt consumption is obvious – pass the saltshaker – and some not so obvious, including that which is added to most processed foods. While you have total control over the saltshaker, you should be aware of the health implications associated with this “hidden” salt in processed foods and what you need to know to keep yourself on track towards living long.

Our bodies cannot survive without salt. This key mineral in our diet helps our muscles contract (including the heart), facilitates the sending of nerve impulses throughout our bodies, and helps to regulate our body’s fluid balance to avoid dehydration. However, if you get too much salt in your diet it can raise your blood pressure, which, if not kept in check, can lead to clotting of your blood which in turn can lead to a stroke or heart attack. The amount of sodium typically consumed in the average diet in the U.S. is around 3,400 milligrams a day. The ideal consumption of salt, however, is far lower – only 1,500 milligrams a day. According to the National Institutes of Health, if we all reduced our salt intake to this level, we would reduce hypertension to approximately one-sixth of the 68 million cases in the US, saving $26 billion in healthcare costs annually. African Americans seem to be at a higher risk for elevated blood pressure in association with salt intake, so that population should consider a hard-stop of 1,500 milligrams a day. For all others, consuming 2,300 milligrams a day is the maximum recommended consumption to keep hypertension under control.

How do you keep your salt intake in balance? Read labels carefully and check serving sizes for sodium content, try to eat fresh vegetables while keeping your salt spicing (the saltshaker!) to a minimum, and simply add more naturally low-sodium foods to your diet, like organic potatoes and nuts.

And not all salt is the same. What kind of salt is best? Pink Himalayan sea salt is especially good for you. It contains 84% sodium chloride with the remaining 16% being made up of naturally occurring trace minerals including silicon, phosphorous, vanadium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, iron, and iodine. These trace minerals are important for healthy bones, fluid balance, pH balance, reducing muscle cramps, promoting blood sugar health, supporting adrenal and thyroid gland function, normalizing blood pressure, and eliminating toxins.

Natural sea salt consumption confers protection against hypertension and kidney damage in Dahl salt-sensitive rats – PMC (nih.gov)

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