Salt intake is necessary, and an essential mineral for your daily health, but too much of it will cause you health problems. Think ‘bad’ like high blood pressure and diabetes. It turns out that too much salt can also lead to a host of of other health problems, as well.
Dietary salt, or table salt, is made from two chemical elements: sodium and chloride. That’s why its chemical name is sodium chloride. It’s the sodium part that’s been tied to health problems. But since most of the sodium we ingest is from salt, it’s difficult to separate the effects of salt and sodium in many studies.
Sal Intake: Health Effects
According to Dr. Holly Nicastro, a nutrition expert at the National Institutes of Health — too much salt can raise your blood pressure. In fact, many studies, in both animals and people, have linked a higher salt intake with higher blood pressure. Reducing salt intake, on the other hand, lowers blood pressure.
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls ofas the heart pumps out blood. When this pressure rises—a condition called high blood pressure, or hypertension—it can damage the body in many ways over time. High blood pressure has been linked to heart disease, , kidney failure, and other health problems.
There are two blood pressure numbers, and they’re usually written with one above or before the other. Systolic, the first, is the pressure when the heart beats, pumping blood through the arteries. Diastolic is the pressure when the heart is at rest between beats. The numbers 120/80 mm/Hg is the number set you should target. Stay at or a little bit below this number.
Salt Intake: How Much Is OK?
Experts recommend that adults take in less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day—that’s about 6 grams of salt, or about a teaspoon. People with high blood pressure should shoot for 1,500 mg. But right now, American adults eat an average of about 3,600 mg of sodium per day. That is way too much.
The potency of salt is incredible, as indicated by the following study. Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo at the University of California, San Francisco, led an NIH-funded study that used computer modeling to explore the effects of a modest reduction in salt intake in the United States. The researchers found that reducing salt intake by 3 grams per day (1,200 mg of sodium) — cut the number of new cases of heart disease each year by as many as 120,000. Stroke cases were reduced by 66,000, and heart attacks by nearly 100,000 cases.
All segments of the population would benefit, especially senior citizens who have frail immune systems.
Time To Make Changes To Your Diet
Even small reductions can affect your blood pressure. If you can’t find an alternative to a particular food, it still helps to pick something that’s lower than what you’re already consuming.
Most salt comes from bread, cereals, and other processed grain products. Check the labels carefully
Beyond that, set up a healthy eating plan to keep your blood pressure under control. Check out the National Institute Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan.
Other lifestyle style changes will also help you keep your blood pressure down. Lose weight if you’re overweight or obese. Get regular physical activity. Quit smoking. Manage your stress. The more of these steps you take, the more likely you’ll be to avoid related health problems, mentioned above.
Start right now! Why not? Make small changes at first, and then keep working to gradually lower your family’s salt intake.