Salt is crucial as it comprises various minerals that are important for the proper functioning of your body. Table salt, i.e., sodium chloride, consists of approximately 40% sodium; the rest is chlorine. In addition to this, most salts contain added iodine. Both iodine and sodium are essential for various life-supporting functions inside your body. According to FDA, adults should take about 1.5 grams of salt daily. The upper limit for this quantity is 2.3 grams. Following are some of the benefits of taking salt in the recommended amounts.
Salt is a vital ingredient that completes a dish. It adds flavour and texture to your food. Some experts say you should have a small amount of salt daily. Others suggest entirely avoiding it because of its potential side effects. There are many kinds of salts available in the market. However, there are many disagreements about the best salt for your kitchen. This article looks at the importance of salt, the types of salts, their pros and cons, and the precautions you should take while eating salt.
Importance of Salt in Your Body
Healthy for the Heart
Sodium draws water into the blood. As the amount of fluid in the blood increases, the volume of the blood increases. The consequences can be high blood pressure. Suppose you do not take salt in sufficient quantities, in that case, you will not have enough sodium in the blood to maintain the required blood pressure—lower blood pressure than average results in a condition known as hypotension. As per research, hypotension is dangerous. It blurs vision, causes nausea, and can even make you faint. In addition, a study has found that sodium deficiency may lead to high levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides in your body, which may risk your heart health.
Salt Keeps You Hydrated
Salt plays a vital role in keeping your body hydrated. Sodium is an essential electrolyte necessary to balance fluid levels in your body. Without sodium, it would not be possible to supply water to different organs of your body. Low water levels can cause dizziness, fatigue, and cramps in your body. As per research, unchecked dehydration can be fatal.
Salt Aids Proper Thyroid Functioning
Studies suggest that your thyroid needs iodine to function correctly. Iodine is a mineral that your body cannot produce by itself. The most common way to take thyroid is through iodised salt. If you do not take salt, this will cause the thyroid to malfunction, distorting metabolism in your body. Lower amounts of iodine will cause problems like enlarged thyroid. Lower iodine levels can also cause intellectual disabilities among children.
Healthy for the Nervous System
Sodium enhances water circulation through your brain, which is essential to function optimally. In addition, being a benefitting electrolyte, it helps nervous system communication through electrical conduction. Low sodium levels affect brain activity.
The HealthifyMe Note
Salt is an essential part of the daily diet. Except for adding flavour, it also has several health benefits. It is vital for a healthy heart and nervous system. It also keeps you hydrated. The most important advantage is that salt gets fortified with iodine. Therefore it is beneficial for proper thyroid function.
Types of Salts
There are various kinds of salts available in the market. Though most have nearly the same sodium concentration by weight, they differ in granularity and texture. The most common types of salts are:
Table salt is also known as refined salt or iodised salt. It is highly processed to remove any sorts of impurities. It also consists of anti-caking agents. Most of the time, table salt contains added iodine. Table salt is common in baking because the tiny crystals dissolve readily.
Benefits of Using Table Salt
- It contains iodine which is healthy for your thyroid.
- It is easily measurable and consistently sized.
- It is highly refined and thus has a small number of impurities.
Precautions to Take
Table salt is highly granular. The amount of salt per teaspoon is significantly high due to the small size of the crystals. It may lead to you oversalting your food without realising it.
It is coarse grain, unprocessed salt from evaporating ocean water or saltwater lakes. Because it is unprocessed, sea salt retains impurities. Therefore, you should sprinkle sea salt on the dish just before serving as cooking for a long time may cause sea salt to lose flavour.
Benefits of Using Sea Salt
- Depending on where they are from, sea salts contain a unique flavour due to the trace minerals that they retain.
- Sea salt is rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc.
Precautions to Take
- Sea salt contains less amount of iodine. So sea salt may not be able to fulfil the daily requirement of iodine in your body.
- Our water bodies have become polluted, and sea salt may contain microplastic traces that harm your health.
Kosher salt is known to be the purest since it contains no additives. It is coarse and flaky in texture. It is mainly used in koshering because its size is ideal for drawing blood out of meat. You can also use kosher salt for curing, pickling, and finishing.
Benefits of Using Kosher Salt
- Kosher salt gives you great control over seasoning because the granules are large enough to see.
- It gives pure flavour as it has no additives.
- The number of grains in a tablespoon is less than Kosher salt, and you are less likely to oversalt your food.
Precautions to Take
- Kosher salt contains no iodine. So, sea salt may not be able to fulfil the daily requirement of iodine in your body. You will have to search for other sources of iodine to meet the daily requirement of iodine.
- It does not dissolve easily and thus can give uneven saltiness to your food.
Himalayan salt is also popularly known as pink salt due to its light pink colour. The pale pink colour is due to the presence of iron oxide. It is 98% sodium chloride (a composition similar to table salt).
Benefits of Using Himalayan Salt
Himalayan salt does not contain any additives. It does not have anti-caking agents like sodium aluminosilicate.
Precautions to Take
Himalayan salt contains natural iodine, which is insufficient to fulfil your body’s daily iodine requirement. Himalayan salt is typically fit for regular cooking (like table salt). Some people also use it as a substitute for bath salts. Candleholders and lamps made of Himalayan salt are also available in the market.
Black salt was used extensively in ancient India because of its therapeutic properties. It has volcanic origins. It also has sulphur, responsible for the salt’s unique smell and taste. In addition, it also has a good amount of potassium.
Benefits of Using Black Salt
- The potassium in black salt counteracts the adverse effects that excess sodium causes in the body.
- Black salt stimulates the liver to produce more bile juice. It helps in improving digestion and prevents bloating.
Precautions to Take
Like all other salts, you should not take black salt in excess.
Adverse Effects of Salts
Overconsumption of salt is a global problem, and you must avoid it. Though taking salt in limited quantities is essential for optimal body function, too much of it can cause potential side effects. Some of these may turn into chronic problems. Following are some of the harmful effects caused by excessive salt intake.
Harms the Heart
Too much salt is unhealthy for your heart. Excess salt causes higher blood pressure, a condition also known as hypertension. The water drawing property of sodium is responsible for this side effect. More sodium draws more water into the blood, which increases blood volume. As a result, the heart pumps harder to supply blood to every part of your body. It damages the blood vessels and causes plaque in arteries, leading to stroke and heart attack. You can counter this side effect by simultaneously increasing potassium intake.
Causes Obesity and Diabetes
Higher salt intake does not lead to a higher weight. But more salty food stimulates one to eat foods rich in sugar. A study on children found that children consuming more salty food were more likely to have a sugary drink. As a result, it increases their calorie intake, which increases the chances of obesity. Also, high sugar intake increases the chances of diabetes.
Your body always tries to maintain the optimal sodium-to-blood ratio. Therefore, you must increase your water intake proportionally to maintain balance if you eat excessive salt. On the other hand, if you do not take the necessary amount of water, the body tries to arrange water internally. The result is hypernatremia, during which your cells release water into the blood to dilute the effect of sodium. As per research, this can cause seizures and even coma.
May Cause Stomach Cancer
Multiple studies have shown that people who take excess salt are more likely to develop stomach cancer. Though the exact mechanism behind extra salt causing stomach cancer is not universally agreed upon, many theories offer plausible explanations. For example, some studies suggest that excess salt causes cell mutation and multiplication, leading to cancer. Another approach points to the growth of Helicobacter Pylori in your stomach, which causes cancer.
The HealthifyMe Note
Excessive salt consumption is well known to be unhealthy. Excess salt raises blood pressure, which is also known as hypertension. The possible side effects are hypernatremia, obesity, diabetes, and stomach cancer.
Salt is a vital component you must take for the smooth functioning of your body. There are various kinds of salts available in the market. Ultimately, the healthiest salt boils down to your tastes and preferences. All the salt varieties contain almost equal amounts of sodium by weight. Similarly, with all kinds of salts, avoiding overconsumption is the primary precaution you should take with all kinds of salts. It may lead to severe side effects.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Which salt is good for health?
A. All salts commonly available in the market have similar health benefits. It is due to their similar chemical composition. However, taking these salts in small quantities is crucial to avoid severe side effects from overconsumption.
Q. Which salt is good for high blood pressure?
A. Salts in small amounts do not spike blood pressure. The sodium content in salt is critical in regulating blood pressure levels. Even though Himalayan salt is the most popular option to consume during hypertension, people suffering from elevated blood pressure must limit their intake.
Q. What is a healthy salt intake?
A. FDA suggests that adults should take about 1.5 grams of salt daily. The upper limit for this quantity is 2.3 grams. You should avoid taking more than 2.3 grams of salt daily. It is advised to limit salt or sodium intake as less as possible.
Q. Can we eat rock salt daily?
A. Rock salt is safe to be included in your daily diet; however, it is crucial to ensure that you take just about 1.5 grams of salt daily. Consuming more than 1.5 grams can lead to serious side effects in the long run. Nothing in excess is good for health.
Q. Is Himalayan salt better than table salt?
A. There is a widespread misperception that Himalayan salt is better than table salt. Himalayan salt has a chemical composition similar to other salts and has no significant additional health benefits. However, it has traces of minerals.
Q. What kind of salt does not raise blood pressure?
A. It would be best if you took small amounts of salt (about 1.5 grams per day on average) to maintain healthy blood pressure levels in your body. Any salt, if taken in high quantities, will raise blood pressure. Patients suffering from hypertension must limit their consumption.
Q. What is a natural way to bring down blood pressure?
A. There are several things you can do to reduce blood pressure naturally. The primary step is to limit or cut down sodium/salt intake. Additionally, you can begin by reducing stress, eating healthy, cutting back on caffeine, and losing weight.
Q. How can I lower my blood pressure in minutes?
A. Drinking warm water makes blood flow easier and hence reduces blood pressure. You can also take a hot shower for a few minutes to lower blood pressure immediately. Slowly breathing and concentrating on your breath can also reduce blood pressure.
Q. How much salt should adults have a day?
A. A typical adult should consume about 1.5 grams of salt per day. It is the recommended safe amount. The upper limit, however, is 2.3 grams. Therefore, you should not exceed 2.3 grams of salt per day.
Q. How many teaspoons of salt should you have a day?
A. 1.5 grams of salt per day is considered safe for a healthy individual. A teaspoon is regarded as 5 grams in general. Therefore, measuring salt in grams rather than a teaspoon would be best. However, ¼ teaspoon can be an approximate range.