Is salt healthy? How much sodium to consume
Salt has been a valuable commodity in ancient times and was seen as an indispensable seasoning element and even as a gift from the gods.Even so, in the last century there has been a turnaround that labeled sodium as a highly dangerous substance and even been refereed to as “the single most harmful substance in the food supply”.
Of course this is all a big bogus and it is far from the truth.Despite the recent bad labeling, salt is definitely necessary for the human health if consumed in the right amounts.
Health benefits of sodium consumption
As i told you before, sodium is a vital nutrient that is essential for maintaining the volume of plasma and to sustain normal cellular metabolism.Besides maintaining extracelular fluid balance and cardiovascular functions it also plays a really important role in the functioning of the nervous system.
What happens in case of a sodium deficiency?
In extreme cases, mamals, including us can experience brain swelling, heart failure, cardiovascular collapse and even acute blood loss. Animals that were in an advanced state of sodium deficiency are seeking for sodium sources instinctively ad often consume far more sodium than normal amount.This craving behavior demonstrates that the biological importance of salt is a real concern and it should be treated as being essential.
Recommended salt consumption vs real life studies
The recommended amount by The Institute of Medicine is 1500 mg of sodium per day, or about 3.6 grams of salt.
Even so, there are many studies like this one that demonstrates that the lowest risk of death for sodium excretion between 4000 and 5990 milligrams in 24 hours.
As a statistical proof that sodium intake much larger than 1500 mg per day has no negative effect on health we can look at the average american salt consumption of 3700 mg a day.This may seem much, but it has been the same for the last 50 years or more and the risks of heart attack and strokes have increased considerably even though salt consumption stayed the same. This means that a high salt consumption did not influence heart conditions in a bad way even after consuming double the recommended amount.Other factors in the american diet have influenced the heart health decline in the past years, but not salt.
Another case is with the Japanese people that have one of the highest life expectancy in the world and they consume an average of 4650 mg of sodium per day, much more than Americans.Even so, they have a much lower risk of cardiovascular disease and strokes than most other countries.
Athletes and people who sweat a lot need more salt
People who sweat a lot eliminate great amounts of sodium and so require a greater intake of it than a sedentary individual.Remember that in this case hydrating yourself properly is essential.
How much salt should i consume in a day?
As you may anticipate, recommended salt consumption varies between individuals based on gender, age, physical activity and health condition.
The data supports an intake between 3000 and 7000 mg of sodium in our diets each day, wich is higher than the recommended amounts by the Institute of Medicine but the safest choice for a healthy life. Remember that in your diet there are a lot of hidden sources of sodium so you ought to be knowing that most foods contain salt so you don’t usually need to worry about not consuming enough.
What is the healthiest type of salt?
The difference between normal table salt and a healthier type lies in it’s varied mineral content.So, a more natural salt extracted from an environment that enabled it to absorb other helpful minerals is much more beneficial to your health than plain sodium.
The most accessible ones are sea salt and some other natural salts that are commercially available.These contain some amounts of calcium potassium, magnesium, zinc and even iron that can aid your health to some extent.
Are there dangerous salts that should not be consumed?
Yes there are! And these are usually salts from the Dead Sea due to the content high in bromide which can be toxic for your body.
Table salt is usually heavilly processed and can contain aditives that are not so good for your health. Remember that if you remove table salt from your diet you should find some other sources of iodine to keep your thyroid gland in top shape.
As a conclusion, you should not stress too much over the consumption of salt, just listen to your body and try to avoid any excesses. There are more important steps to a better health than worrying about this.