Is Sodium Really Worth Its Salt
Sodium is an essential mineral that regulates many important bodily functions. The recommended intake, according to the American heart association and the American dietary guidelines, falls in the range of 1500- 2300 milligrams per day for an adult. That might seem like a lot, until you find out that only a teaspoon of salt, about six grams of it, contains that much sodium.
Benefits of Sodium
- It helps brain function by facilitating neurotransmission and maintaining a healthy level of extracellular fluid.
- Facilitates muscle contractions
- Helps maintain blood pressure
But not too much
Salt is almost 40% sodium in content. Naturally, with our salt-laden diets, people generally consume almost 2 to 3 times more than the recommended amounts of sodium. High sodium intake leads to elevated blood pressure which takes a toll on the arteries and can cause cardiovascular diseases in the long run. Moreover, a diet high in salt can also potentially lead to elevated risk of gastric cancer as a study by Linus Pauling institute suggests. There is also some evidence that links high sodium intake to bone loss and osteoporosis in the long run.
How to keep sodium levels in our diet to a healthy level?
Avoid pre- packaged and prepared foods – easier said than done. Therefore, be sure to check for the sodium content on the foods you eat regularly such as breads, cured meats, frozen pizzas, etc. and opt for the ones with least sodium content. Make more room for fresh greens and fruits on your platter. Use smart alternatives for adding flavor such as black pepper or lemon pepper. And, last but not the least, exercise portion control. Eating less of that salty food means less sodium to worry about.
Sodium is a vital mineral for many of our bodily functions, by as with anything else, overindulgence presents a plethora of risks. Find a balance and stick to it.