If there’s one thing we hear about salt, it’s that it’s bad for us. We know that it’s hidden in junk foods and preserved foods, but very few of us actually consciously manage our salt intake.

    While countless foods contain salt naturally or otherwise, we have always been told by health organizations that salt is bad for our health. An excessive salt intake has been associated with several health problems, including heart disease and high blood pressure.

    However, we also know that without sufficient sodium, our bodies can’t function properly. Electrolyte drinks are designed to put essential salts back into our systems, so where’s the line we need to walk between healthy and unhealthy?

    Let’s look at when salt is good for us to eat and when we should avoid it.

    Are salt and sodium the same thing?

    Not exactly – many food labels will only include their sodium content. Sodium is in salt, but you need much less sodium a day to be functional. Adults don’t need any more than 2.4g of sodium a day, which is equivalent to 1tsp (6g) of salt. You can convert sodium to salt by multiplying the number by 2.5. (For example, 1g of sodium per 100g is equal to 2.5g of salt per 100g.)

    Why is salt bad for us? 

    The biggest issue with salt often comes from the overall state of a diet that is high in sodium. For example, if you’re eating a lot of whole foods, your salt intake should be around the recommended daily intake. However, if you eat a lot of preserved, processed, or fast foods, then your diet will be extremely high in sodium – and thus in calories, sugar, and bad fats that so often come with them.

    It is likely for this reason that a high salt intake has been linked to so many life-ending diseases and conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and clotting, strokes, and an increased risk of cancers.

    When is salt good for us?

    Despite the negative press salt receives, our bodies do need it to function. When consumed from healthy sources at the recommended intake (around 1 tsp—6 grams—a day), salt helps our bodies balance fluids, maintain blood pressure, and ensures proper muscle and nerve function. It is essential to the health of the heart, liver, and kidneys.

    How can I manage salt in my diet?

    Salt can be easily managed when you eat a healthy, balanced diet. Here are some tips to help you manage your sodium intake:

    • Buy low-sodium salt, stock cubes and anything else you use to flavor your food
    • Taste your food before you salt it: it might not need the extra seasoning
    • Fill up on fresh foods rather than pre-packaged foods; they’re often loaded with salt to preserve them
    • Avoid eating junk food, and when you do indulge, check the label (indulging from time to time is okay, but make sure your diet on most days sticks to the recommended sodium intake)

    If you’d like to monitor your health and assess what changes you need to make to live a longer, healthier life, Apurva Advanced Medical Care in Prescott is here to help. We’ll monitor your physical health needs and advise you on all possible ways you can optimize your health. We’re here to help you live a long and healthy life, offering a wide range of healthcare services.

    For more information about Apurva or to book an appointment with one of our healthcare providers, please click here.