YOUR SALT CRAVINGS START WHEN YOU’RE A BABY
Researchers from the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia report that 6-month-old infants who have been introduced to starchy table foods containing added salt tend to prefer salty-tasting foods 55 percent more than infants not introduced to those foods.
Less salt may save your life
A study in the British Medical Journal suggests that if we were to cut our salt intake by 3 grams per day, the US alone would have up to 120,000 fewer cases of coronary heart disease, 66,000 fewer strokes and 99,000 fewer heart attacks annually. It could also save up to $24 billion annually in health care costs
Too little salt can also kill you
More common among endurance athletes, hyponatremia occurs when a person drinks excessive amounts of water, resulting in a very low concentration of sodium in the blood. In the most serious of cases, an athlete may experience seizures, coma or even death.
Sea salt is not better for you than table salt
Sea salt and table salt are said to basically have the same nutritional value. The main differences are how they're processed, how they taste, and their texture - not their chemical makeup.
Sea salt, by nature of how it's produced - through evaporation of sea water - contains a few trace minerals depending on its source of water. Table salt, on the other hand, is mined from underground salt deposits and is usually stripped of its natural minerals (though the mineral iodine is often added).
That said, both sea salt and table salt contain the same amount of sodium chloride, so you shouldn't consume more than 2,300 mg a day (1,500 mg if you're over 51).
Potassium is sodium's neutralizer
Sodium and potassium have such a close relationship that the journal Hypertension suggests that an increase in potassium can actually lower blood pressure just as much as if you were to decrease your sodium intake. The problem is that most of us consume way too much processed food, with a lot of salt, and that limits the effectiveness of potassium.
A salty diet may put you at risk for osteoporosis and kidney stones
Unlike the good relationship sodium shares with potassium, sodium and calcium are not a good pair. When sodium intake becomes too high, the body gets rid of it through urine. But, on the way out, it grabs hold of calcium and takes it along for the ride. This not only depletes calcium stores in the body - which is a catalyst to osteoporosis - but it also increases calcium levels in the urine, which can lead to the development of very painful kidney stones.
Do you need to give up salt entirely?
The short answer is "no." If you don't have high blood pressure and you're generally healthy, you shouldn't be too concerned about it.
The Institute of Medicine says we shouldn't exceed 2,300 mg of salt a day, but most people do (by about a 1,000 mg), and it's most likely not going to do great damage to your body. If you do have high blood pressure, however, or have a family history of it, you definitely should cut back on your sodium intake, because your heart is already working overtime (more salt = more water = more heart pumping).
As always, be sure to consult with your doctor on what works best for your individual body.