Humans evolved for millennia on diets that were naturally very low salt; hunter-gatherers probably ate less than one gram of salt a day. Then about 6000 years ago, the Chinese began using salt to preserve food, and ever since it’s been a major ingredient in our diet worldwide. Today the high salt content of many processed foods have pushed average consumption up to 8 gm a day- double the recommended level of 4 gm a day. Even 4 gm is way more than our bodies are designed for. High intake of salt pushes up our blood pressure, there are two theories explaining this. The first states that high intake of salt causes our body to make more fluid, thus causing high blood pressure. This raised blood pressure may damage the arteries connected to heart. It will reduce the amount of blood reaching the heart. This may lead to angina (sharp pains in the chest when being active). The result is- the heart cells stop working properly because they are not receiving oxygen and nutrients. Lowering the blood pressure may remove some of the problems and help to reduce the risk of greater damage. If you still continue to eat too much salt, then the impact of extra blood pressure will become so high that it can burst the arteries and become completely clogged. The result is a heart attack. Too much salt can lead to muscle cramps, dizziness or electrolyte disturbance which can cause neurological problems. Death can occur by ingestion of large amounts of salt in a short time. Insomania is another health problem related to excessive intake of NaCl ( sodium chloride or the common salt)
On the other hand there are arguments in the favor of salt which are raising eyebrows. Our body naturally maintains a constant balance of salt and water, with our kidneys keeping the equilibrium by filtering the reabsorbing salt. Any excess is expelled in the urine. A range of hormones perform this balancing act. In young people, restricting salt is likely to have little effect on blood pressure, it is significant in older ages.
Too Little Salt-
A diet low in sodium may put people with chronic illness or the elderly at risk for hyponatremia. Hyponatremia, also known as low blood sodium, is difficult to diagnose unless a blood test is administered. Symptoms usually include nausea, headaches, confusion, lethargy and loss of consciousness. The elderly are more at risk of developing hyponatremia as the aging body may not metabolize sodium as efficiently as it once did. Difficulty with sodium absorption can be exacerbated for those on pain medications, antidepressants, and diuretics. Other risk factors for developing hyponatremia include chronic illnesses such as Addison’s Disease, cirrhosis, dehydration, hypothyroid and heart or kidney failure. It is very important to listen to your body and take note of any symptoms—and to contact a medical professional if needed.
Too Much Salt-
For those with high blood pressure or hypertension no more than 1,500 mg per day of sodium is recommended. Research has shown that a diet with 1,500 mg of daily sodium intake or less not only keeps blood pressure from rising, but also allows blood pressure medicines to work more efficiently. Consuming too much salt can worsen high blood pressure symptoms, such as swelling, shortness of breath—and can cause weight gain.
The easy way to reduce the salt intake
- Choose low salt products(less than 120 mg of sodium per 100-gm serve).
- Cut back on salt slowly so you don’t notice the difference. After a while your normal diet will taste very salty.
- Flavor food with herbs, spices, garlic, and chilli, instead of salt.
- Taste your food before you add salt.
- If you crave a packet of salty chips, then have it. Just cut back on salt elsewhere that day.
- Choose natural rather than processed foods-fruit, vegetables and meat are all naturally low salt.
- Avoid food that have hidden salt-think soya sauce, stock cubes, bacon and flavoured noodles.
- Read the nutrition label of the food you buy and make yourself aware with the terms.
One should rely on flavor not on salt ! here is the perfectly balanced recipe to suit your taste using the natural flavors.
Farfalle with mushroom and spinach
- 6 ounces dried farfalle (bow-tie pasta)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 cup sliced fresh mushroom
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 cups thinly sliced fresh spinach
- 1 teaspoon snipped fresh thyme
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoon shredded parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to packet directions and drain well. Meanwhile in a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, mushroom and garlic; cook and stir for 2-3 minutes or until mushroom are nearly tender. Stir in spinach, thyme and pepper, cook 1 minute or until heated through and spinach is slightly wilted. Stir in cooked pasta; toss gently to mix. Sprinkle with cheese. Make 4 side dish serving.
Since many of us consume too much salt, the following recommendations and tips are a good way for the average person to reduce their salt intake.
Avoid adding salt to foods at the table or during cooking, such as cooking noodles, rice and hot cereals in salted water. Instead use spices and herbs for flavor.