Is Salt Actually Bad for You?

By FittestFirst | August 27, 2017

Salt is a naturally occurring compound that is commonly used to season food.

In addition to increasing flavor, it is used as a food preservative and can help stop the growth of bacteria (1).

Yet over the past few decades, it has gained a bad reputation and has been linked to conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease and even stomach cancer.

In fact, the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sodium intake to below 2,300 mg daily (2).

Keep in mind that salt is only about 40% sodium, so this amount is equal to about 1 teaspoon (6 grams).

However, some evidence shows that salt may affect individuals differently and may not have as much of an impact on heart disease as once believed.

This article will take a deeper look at the research to determine whether or not salt is actually bad for you.

Salt, also known as sodium chloride, is a compound made up of about 40% sodium and 60% chloride, two minerals that play an important role in health.

Concentrations of sodium are carefully regulated by the body and fluctuations lead to negative side effects (3).

Sodium is involved in muscle contractions and losses through sweat or fluid can contribute to muscle cramps in athletes (4).

It also maintains nerve function and tightly regulates both blood volume and blood pressure (5, 6).

Chloride, on the other hand, is the second most abundant electrolyte in the blood after sodium (7).

Electrolytes are atoms found in bodily fluid that carry an electrical charge and are essential to everything from nerve impulses to fluid balance.

Low levels of chloride can lead to a condition called respiratory acidosis in which carbon dioxide builds up in the blood, causing the blood to become more acidic (8).

Although both of these minerals are important, research shows that individuals may respond differently to sodium.

While some people may not be affected by a high-salt diet, others may experience high blood pressure or bloating with increased sodium intake (9).

Those who experience these effects are considered salt-sensitive and may need to monitor their sodium intake more carefully than others.

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