What does salt do to your body?

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What is salt?

  • Sodium chloride, also known as salt, is a mixture of 40% sodium and 60% chlorine by weight. The terms sodium and salt are often interchangeable.
  • These minerals are vital for proper body function, from the movement of muscles to the maintenance and repair of the nervous system. Most of the food we eat contains some salt. To enhance the flavor of food, artificial salt is added.
  • Salt is essential for our bodies to function. But did you know that too many salt can actually be harmful? How much salt can you consider too much?

Recommendations for intake

  • The recommended salt intake varies from one person to the next depending on medical conditions and dietary restrictions.
  • American Heart Association recommends that adults consume no more than 2,300mg of sodium per day and no more than 1,500m for those with hypertension.
  • For a personalized meal plan that will help you manage your health, consult a dietitian.

Salt in excess: What does it mean for your diet?

An excess sodium intake has been associated with elevated blood pressure. This could lead to other medical complications such as stroke or hypertension.

Salt reduction tips

  • Always opt for fresh, whole foods and cook your own meals whenever possible. Also,
  • Avoid eating processed foods and avoid restaurants that add salt to your food.
  • Limit or avoid condiment use. Salt levels in certain condiments, such as soy sauce, chilli sauce, and salad dressings can be surprising.
  • Before adding salt, taste your food. It may taste fine by itself.
  • Use herbs and spices to season your food instead of salt
  • Ask for less gravy when dining out and don’t eat the soup served with your meal. It could be high in salt.

When is it appropriate to see a doctor for medical concerns?

Hypertension is a condition that can be caused by consuming a high-salt diet. Hypertension is sometimes called the silent killer. Hypertension is often undiagnosed because there are no symptoms or warning signs. Hypertension can sometimes be detected only after complications like a stroke or heart attack. Regular check-ups are the only way to detect hypertension.

These symptoms should be reported to your nearest Accident & Emergency (A&E).

  • Grave headaches
  • Confusion or fatigue
  • Vision problems
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Unregular heartbeat
  • Urine containing blood
  • Pounding your chest, neck or ears

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