SALT: Is It Healthy Or Unhealthy?

This article was published on: 04/18/23 10:24 AM

Reading Time: 2 minutes

To salt or not to salt? That is the question, and it’s a good one at that. Is salt in the diet of concern to you? To some folks, salt is a four letter word. However, for centuries it’s been used and praised as a spice and as a preservative.

Also, today some athletes are told to swallow salt tablets to offset the salt they lose through sweat.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the misconceptions about salt.

using salt in your diet

What Is Salt?

Salt, or sodium, is one of the electrolytes (a group of mostly minerals). Table salt is technically sodium chloride, a combination of electrolytes. Electrolytes play an important role in your body. They are crucial for bone formation, blood clotting and the transmission of nerve impulses.

One of sodium’s most crucial roles is to help maintain optimum fluid levels in body tissues. Sweat contains electrolytes and the main one lost in sweat is sodium. How much you’ll lose when you sweat varies from person to person. That’s why athletes who sweat excessively (and I’m one of those) are advised to replace electrolytes and fluid losses.

Should You Avoid Salt?

People with existing hypertension are generally advised to lower their sodium intake. The easiest way to do this is by avoiding processed, fast, and restaurant foods and by salting less. Of course, reducing alcohol intake, eating more plant foods and getting more exercise will also have a positive effect on hypertension.

Fruits and vegetables are high in potassium and this balances out sodium levels. In particular, potatoes, bananas, avocados, pinto and kidney beans, and artichokes are
especially packed with potassium.

A new lower recommended intake for ADDED sodium (not including what naturally occurs in foods) is no more than 1500 mg/day (about two thirds of a teaspoon). In practical terms that’s 7 generous sprinkles with the salt shaker or 17 pinches of salt
added to the food you cook.

Yes, salt, and in particular salt in the diet, can be a concern for some folks. But if you’re healthy, active and eat plenty of fresh plant foods and fruit, you’re probably safe in the salt category.

If you feel stuck and need additional support to adopt a new healthy habit or routine, consider working with me. We can partner up in setting goals, drawing on your skills and strengths, and implementing strategies to help you find your way to lasting healthy success.

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For over 15 years, Shelli has been a freelance writer and wellness habit coach. She writes about brain fitness, creating a healthy lifestyle, traveling the world, and making positive habits stick. Stop procrastinating! Take action, join her free newsletter.

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