Salt is apart of everyone’s diet is some shape or form, but there is a lot of controversy. Over the years there have been studies that say salt is bad for us, and there have been others that say it can be good.
Made up of mainly two minerals, sodium and chloride, it is a part of each meal we have throughout the day.
We are mostly made up of water so it is strange to compare our bodies as having a similar composition to the ocean.
When people are ill they sometimes receive a saline, or salt water, solution directly into their bloodstream. Pretty neat, right?
But we’re sure there are a lot of people out there in the world who don’t know some of the key facts about salt. So we’re here to tell it to you straight.
Is all salt bad for you?
We’ve all probably heard that nothing is ever really bad for us if it is eaten in moderation, just like with chocolate and fruit. The same goes for salt. That is why it is important to eat a balanced diet.
It is amazing to think that two thirds of adults in Britain are obese or overweight, showing that we are definitely doing something wrong with our approach to eating. This is most likely due to lack of information and knowledge of healthy living and what is nutritional. We need to know exactly what we are putting into our bodies, if we don’t know then we risk being exposed to a wide range of problems as we get older.
Maybe we’ve gotten lazy with cooking nutritious meals at home and would rather settle for take-outs and microwaveable meals that are high in fat and salt, the bad kind at least.
Western countries eat on average about 10g per day of salt, much lower than that of Eastern European countries and Asia. In the USA 77% of sodium eaten comes from processed and restaurant foods, 11% from cooking and table use, the rest is made up from what is naturally found in foodstuff.
Sourced from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt#Edible_salt
A small amount of salt is essential, we need less than 1 gram per day, but on average we are eating 8.1 g per day when the recommended maximum is 6g. It would be ideal to bring it down to 3g per day to help lower blood pressure.
It would seem that nowadays people are getting too much of the wrong kind of salt, particularly from processed foods.
The different kinds of salts
This is the most common of its kind and is something that nearly everyone has in cupboards at home in the kitchen. It is only made from sodium and chloride, mined from rock salt or seawater. It is stripped of other naturally occurring minerals and results in a bitter taste. Anti-caking agents are added which prevent the absorption of water, defeating the purpose of salts helping to retain water. A synthetic iodine is sprayed onto the salt to make up for what is taken out.
By having all of the minerals taken out it essentially has a longer shelf life, which is a profit for manufacturers. Not only this, but the salt is bleached to look more appealing. Not sure about you, but wouldn’t you rather have salt that didn’t look as ‘clean’ and was healthier for you? Yes? Hmm, we thought so too.
Table salt is probably one of the worst types of salt because all the minerals we need are taken out. Is it any wonder we have so many problems with our health when we are eating too much of the bad things.
All salt can be seen as sea salt. The different here being that it is salt that is priced higher than table salt, but it is still refined and has most of the minerals removed in the process. The only difference between the two is that it is lacking iodine that your body needs, so it isn’t any healthier in the slightest.
Unrefined Salt contains over 60 different minerals in it compared to the 2 in the previous salts mentioned. Not only this, it is usually colorful, coming in shades such as pink, brown or grey depending on where it is sourced. For example, Himalayan salt is pink in color, making it extremely appetizing to look at, much better than the bleached versions sold in shops.
This kind of salt provides a natural balance of minerals that keeps us healthy. Additional minerals such as magnesium and potassium are essential for our bodies to keep up a healthy immune system. Our bodies know what to do with unrefined salt, and how to utilize it to it’s fullest, compared to the refined kind.
What can salt do to your body?
If you take the wrong kind of salt it can have serious repercussions on your body.
It can raise your blood pressure which is often linked to strokes, heart failure, heart attacks, and is the leading cause of death and disability in the UK.
There is evidence of a link between high salt intake and stomach cancer, osteoporosis, obesity, kidney stones, kidney disease, vascular dementia and water retention. Of course, not everyone will get these diseases, but some people are more susceptible than others.
High blood pressure (Hypertension) affects one in five adults in the UK. Research in the past has shown that those who consume less salt daily had lower blood pressure than those consuming more than double.
Osteoporosis is a serious condition where the bones become thinner, making them prone to breaking and is caused by a high salt diet as it causes the calcium from the bones to come out in urine.
Obesity can be a by-product of having too much salt in your diet as it makes you thirsty which can be quenched with water, but a lot of people probably reach for sugary drinks which in turn causes them to gain weight. This can be a potentially dangerous problem for children and teenagers who often drink sugary drinks.
Diabetes is an on-going problem for a lot of people with 2.5 million in the UK have having the condition. Salt can raise the risk of developing it as it raises blood pressure.
But there is a flip side: If you don’t get enough salt in your system in can be equally as dangerous. If you have insufficient amounts of sodium it can cause hyponatremia (water intoxification) which happens when you have too much water and not enough salt and has the following symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of energy
- Restlessness and irritability
- Muscle weakness, spasms or cramps
So you can see that there are two extremes and it can be quite difficult to find the balance that we need.
When is salt good for you?
The pure, unrefined salt is what is good for you as it contains all the minerals the body needs. If you want to give your body the best always go for this. Celtic Sea Salt in particular can have some great health benefits such as:
- Strong immune system: helps to protect you against the cold virus, the fever and flu, as well as allergies.
- Weight Loss: sea salt can help to create digestive juices to digest food faster and prevent build up in the digestive tract which often leads to compensation.
- Asthma: it is effective in reducing inflammation in the respiratory system. For example, some people sprinkle salt onto their tongue after drinking water to help.
- Muscle spasms: can be controlled by potassium as it helps it to function. The small amounts in sea salt can help the body to absorb potassium from other foods more effectively.
Table salt is made up of less than 40% sodium by weight, which serves a vital purpose by helping nerves and muscle to function properly and is involved in the regulation of water content.
Foods that are high in salt
There are a lot of foods that we might not even realize are high in salt and you need to watch out for them to help you have a healthier life. These are the main culprits:
- Bacon, ham and smoked meats
- Salted and dry roasted nuts
- Salt fish and smoked fish
- Soy Sauce
- Gravy granules and stock cubes
- Yeast Extract
Some brands are worse off than others as they all add in different amounts of salt. Here are a few that you should always check the packet on:
- Baked beans
- Breakfast cereals
- Pasta sauces
- Tomato Ketchup
- Ready meals
How to use less salt
If you want to make a big change and cut down on salt then here are a few tips we have on hand.
- Try not to add salt to foods when you’re cooking as most don’t need it. The same goes for once it’s cooked.
- Don’t use too much ketchup or mayonnaise as it if often high in salt.
- When choosing a snack to eat don’t just opt for the chocolate bar or crisp option. Try out some fruit instead or vegetables.
- Be careful when eating out that you don’t choose something that has too much meat or cheese, especially on a pizza. The plainer food choices often have the lowest amount of salt.
Always check the labels to make sure nothing is too high and you aren’t going over the daily amount of salt you should be taking.
Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.