Is SALT A Four Letter Word?

To salt or not to salt? That is the question, and it’s a good one at that.

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.

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.

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 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.


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