Salt -- is it good or is it bad? Over the years, processed foods heavy in salt have been on the rise. Salt is used in foods to promote shelf-stable products to last longer. Salt is an important ingredient in our diet and contains a nutrient called sodium. Sodium is needed to allow our bodies to function properly, however, if too much or too little is consumed, it could put you at risk for developing adverse health conditions such as high blood pressure.
Sodium attracts water in our body. Wherever the sodium goes, the water follows. When you eat food rich in sodium, the sodium enters the bloodstream and pulls water out from the cells into the bloodstream. The more fluid in your blood, the higher your blood pressure will be. There are times when increased blood pressure could help. Think about when you go for a run. Your blood is pumping hard and fast to deliver oxygen to cells. Elevated blood pressure during a run can help deliver oxygen to muscle cells. This is one reason you are told to drink plenty of electrolytes like sodium. Sodium plays a key role in hydration and consuming too little can be detrimental to one’s health.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, which is about one teaspoon of salt. Choosing the type of salt is based on your taste preference. Himalayan pink salt or sea salt may contain more trace minerals, but if you are consuming one teaspoon a day, the difference is negligible. For more information on how to reduce your sodium intake, read our article on Salt Sense.
Written by Brianna Ballard, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern. Learn more about the Wellness Workdays Dietetic Internship.