Salt, or Sodium, is something we need in our diets to live. However, our body needs a very specific amount. Though guidelines recommend only 6g of salt per day, Americans often have an average of 8.5g each day.
This increased amount of salt can lead to all kinds of issues, including heart disease or high blood pressure. A question we often get is, how do I know if the salt I'm eating is enough. Added to that, what could happen if we have to little or too much salt?
Controlling Sodium Intake
The American Heart Association recommends that an adult only have 2,500mg of sodium a day while children cut back further to 1,500 milligrams a day. However, modern cooking has made this hard. For example, going to McDonald's in 2017 would show 24 menu items that contained over 50% of the daily salt limit for an adult.
This is because manufactured food, whether packaged or in a restaurant, will often have many times the normal level of salt for the sake of flavor. If you are looking to control how much salt you are eating, following a holistic health plan will be your best option. In holistic health, doctors will recommend a diet based on keeping your whole body healthy.
In general, you will find that making meals from scratch with fresh fruits and vegetables as the best option. From there, it's much easier to make sure you are getting the salt you need as you are adding salt yourself.
What Happens When Salt Levels Are Off?
Should you have a high or low salt intake, a number of things could happen. For a long time, western medicine assumed that low-salt diets were best. However, new research has found the sodium levels need to be just right rather than as low as possible.
Too Much Salt
Research has found that too much salt can lead to health issues such as cardiovascular events like stroke and heart attack. In addition, extended exposure to too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, hypertension, and kidney disease.
Too Little Salt
Similarly, having too little sodium in your diet can result in issues like insulin resistance, hypothyroidism, heart failure, and even high cholesterol. The bottom line, low blood sodium levels can be just as harmful to your body, if not more so, than the known effects of high sodium levels.
Salt or Sodium
The issue that many people have is the misunderstanding about table salt versus sodium. Regular salt, such as table salt, is only 40% sodium. That means cooking from scratch requires a little planning if you want to make certain you are getting your sodium intake correct.
The average adult needs 2.5 grams of sodium per day. If you do the math, that amounts to roughly 6.5 grams of salt each day or 1.3 teaspoons. As you can see, it's no surprise that the average American adult is dealing with increased blood pressure.
There are cases where people need more or less salt than the average person. However, in these cases, a professional doctor should be consulted to ensure that the individual is getting what they need. In general, salt supplements are not needed, nor should they be taken by the general public.
Always keep salt out of the reach of children and add very little salt to their plate for them. Finally, if you think you have an issue, check about getting a high blood pressure consult with your doctor to see if you are having issues and what can be done to get you and your best path for health.