Salt has been a hot topic of conversation for years with the increased popularity of salt-reduced products and increasing sales of Himalayan pink salts. To many, this seems quite the contradiction. People want less salt, but are happy with coloured salt? What is going on. Firstly, it is important to note that salt and sodium are not the same. Sodium is one half of the compound, the other at a ratio of 1:1 are chloride ions. (Sodium is what is usually listed on nutritional labels).
If in doubt, go back to your An. & Phys. The body requires a small amount of sodium for various neural processes such as nerve impulse and muscle contraction. However, the amount that the general population tends to consume is significantly higher than the body requires. Excess sodium puts the liver under quite a lot pressure in its attempt to maintain balance in the bloodstream. Have you ever noticed increased fluid retention when you’ve had super salty meals, or maybe when you went a bit overboard with the chicken salt? This is the body’s natural response to excess salt. The body will retain water in a bid to dilute the sodium which increases blood volume. The higher the blood volume, the harder the heart needs to work and more pressure is placed against the arteriole walls which is a textbook definition for high blood pressure. This is only one result but it is the most common cardiovascular condition.
When looking at someone’s sodium intake it is important to understand the high risk individuals who will be more susceptible to developing health conditions from excessive salt consumption. These include:
- People over the age of 50,
- People already diagnosed with hypertension or heart disease, or,
- People diagnosed with diabetes.
To reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, The Heart Foundation (2017), recommends adults consume less than 6g of salt per day (2400mg sodium) which is equivalent to one teaspoon. For those with hypertension, 4g of salt per day is recommended at 1600mg sodium.
What about pink salt, rock salt, or Himalayan salt? Aren’t these better for you? When it comes down to it, salt is salt, regardless of the name and colour. The differences between pink salt and variations of, are the additional nutrients such as potassium, magnesium and calcium that are found in varieties of crystal salts. However, this does not mean you can shower your meals in pink salt and become invincible. The recommended teaspoon still applies even for pink, rock, ‘purple’, ‘green’ or ‘cerulean’ salt.
If you do enjoy your salt, it is important to ensure you body is getting enough fluid to maintain balance. So, increase your water consumption if your salt intake is slightly higher than recommended to assist your body to function optimally. Who needs the increase fluid retention!