Salt inspires conversation on whether salt is healthy or not. People argue that too much salt is bad and too little salt is good. A moderate amount of salt is beneficial for the kidneys. The correct balance of salt helps regulate body fluids and helps moisten dryness, especially in the winter when the weather is cold.
WHY IS SALT VITAL TO HEALTH?
Salt is essential for body health. The more salt ingested increases the body’s requirement for fluids. So, after a heavy salt loaded meal, drink plenty of hydrating water. The kidneys will flush out the heavy dose of salt. Salt also helps with digestion and may soften abdominal swellings and intestinal obstructions. Salt also aids with bowel movements.
Early signs of excess salt intake include unusual thirst, dark urine, a darker complexion, clenched teeth and bloodshot eyes. It is usually sodium that is over-used in the diet.
Insufficient salt sometimes seen in salt/sodium-restricted diets diminishes strength, sex drive, intestinal gas, vomiting, and muscular atrophy. But these symptoms may also arise from many causes other than lack of salt.
Potassium and sodium should be in balance in the body. An excess of one depletes the other. Healthy choices for balancing salt or sodium include: potassium-rich foods such as vegetables, leafy greens, legumes, grains, fruit and herbs.
Substitute very sweet potassium foods such as rice syrup, honey, figs, yams, etc. counteract high levels of alcohol and high sugar cravings resulting from excess salt. These foods not only produce a better quality balance to salt/sodium than alcohol and refined sugar, but will also control further salt cravings.
Always read the labels on prepared foods and packaged foods. Choose foods that are lower in salt and chemicals that make you want to eat more of the product. Salt is made up of sodium and chloride and it is the sodium that is put in the labels on nutritional information in products.
HOW MUCH SALT DO WE REQUIRE FOR HEALTH?
Converting Salt to Sodium: sodium grams x 0.4 = amount of sodium in grams
Multiply the grams of salt by 0.4 to get the amount of sodium in grams. Multiply this figure by 1000 for sodium in milligrams and this will give an accurate measure of the milligrams of sodium in salt. One gram of salt equals 400 milligrams of sodium. Read the sodium amounts on prepared food and this will give you a benchmark of your sodium intake.
Converting Sodium to Salt: Sodium grams X 2.5 = miligrams of salt.
To reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease, the Heart Foundation recommends adults eat less that 6 grams of salt (2400 mg sodium) a day. This amounts to one teaspoon per day. Children should eat less salt than 6 milligrams per day.
EAT MORE FRESH FOOD
Reduce your intake of fast food that can be high in salt. Eating more fresh vegetables and fruits to counter your intake of salt and will still satisfy your desire for more high salt food. Try taking salads and other vegetables to work with you instead of those salty foods. Make a decision to make three days of eating with less salt and slowly change your diet habits.
It only takes a few days to help reduce the salt if you are determined to keep your body in good health! Become a label reader of prepackaged foods to determine how much salt you are getting in your diet.
Life is better with less salt!