First, no one really argues excessive salt intake is generally not healthy for you. Having a salt shaker next to your breakfast, lunch and dinner plate is not a good idea. It can, and will, increase blood pressure and possibly contribute to such devastating health conditions as Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and others.
And a big “however”…let us not forget that salt is in fact an essential ingredient to good health. A few examples…
- Salt is essential to good hydration. We must replace lost salt after exercise or excessive perspiration;
- Iodized salt is important in maintaining the necessary level of iodine to fend off the development of goiters, which are not only cosmetically unattractive, but have deemed to lead to mental retardation. Iodine deficiency remains a problem in many parts of the world where iodized salt is not readily available.
- And a stream of lesser facts such as a 2010 Harvard study linked low-salt diets to an increase in insulin resistance, or low salt intake is a precursor to Type 2 Diabetes and higher salt diets can help the elderly stave off chronic fatigue syndrome, etc.
We should also be aware of where we get our salt and how easy it is to have a high salt intake without being aware of it. Some of the hidden sources include:
Frozen dinners, pizza, packaged mixes, canned soups or broths and salad dressings;
- Other less likely canned foods like tuna can also have high contact;
- Instant or flavored rice, pasta and cereal mixes have added salt
We should also recognize there are several types of salt in addition to plain iodized table salt. The other two most popular are:
Sea salt, salt obtained by the evaporation of seawater, is used in cooking and cosmetics. Historically called bay salt or solar salt. Generally more expensive than table salt, it is commonly used in gourmet cooking and specialty potato chips, particularly the kettle cooked variety (known as hand-cooked in the UK/Europe). Wikipedia
Kosher salt in the US, is a variety of edible salt with a much larger grain size than some common table salt. Like common table salt, kosher salt consists of the chemical compound sodium chloride. Unlike some common table salt, Kosher salt typically contains no additives (for example, iodide), although some brands will include anti-clumping agents in small amounts. Additive-free non-kosher salt is also readily available. The Salt Institute claims “Kosher salt contains no additives”. Unlike regular table salt it is not iodized. Wikipedia
We must be informed about salt, its benefits and issues. Be a wise consumer of salt and recognize both its benefit and potential harms.