Is salt really bad for you? 5 myths and facts
Salt – it’s a natural resource found everywhere from the ocean to our tears, it’s tasty and it can be really cheap to buy. But like many things, too much salt isn’t great, especially for our health.
Myth 1: All salt is out to kill you and you shouldn’t eat any of it
Eating too much salt can contribute to high blood pressure, which is linked to conditions like heart failure and heart attack, kidney problems, fluid retention, stroke and osteoporosis. You might think this should mean you need to cut out salt completely, but salt is actually an important nutrient for the human body.
Your body uses salt to balance fluids in the blood and maintain healthy blood pressure, and it is also essential for nerve and muscle function. It’s impossible to live a life without any salt (you’ll die!). So, while a little salt in your diet is necessary, it’s important to keep the amount in check. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend adults eat no more than 5 grams of salt a day, which is less than one teaspoon.
Myth 2: Pink/black/rock/sea/Himalayan salt is better for you than other types of salt
You might have seen some varieties of salt advertised as having extra health benefits that regular table salt doesn’t, like containing minerals that are good for your body.
Himalayan salt, sea salt, rock salt, black salt, pink salt, unicorn salt – in the end, it’s all still salt. Upping your salt intake to try and get the benefits of an advertised mineral might lead you to consume far too much salt, putting yourself at risk of disease.
If you’re looking for a great way to get healthy minerals and other nutrients in your diet, fruits and veggies are a great source of these.
Myth 3: You can tell that a food is salty by tasting it
Some foods with a high salt content won’t taste very salty at all. Many packaged foods that contain a lot of salt have other ingredients that balance out the salty flavour, so that the salt is effectively hidden in the food.
Myth 4: You should eat or drink more salt after working out
Salt comes out of your body in two ways – through urine and through perspiration – but that doesn’t mean you need to add extra salt to your diet every time you break a sweat.
Some products, like sports drinks, are advertised as a good way to replace lost salts after working out. Under usual circumstances, sports drinks that contain electrolytes are not necessary for rehydration – the process of replacing lost fluids and salts. Tap water and consuming a healthy diet will help replace any nutrients lost during any activity. Sports drinks can be used to rehydrate if you have exercised continuously for 90 minutes or more.
Myth 5: If you had high blood pressure caused by too much salt, you’d be able to tell
Most people with high blood pressure don’t display any symptoms, so it’s important to get your blood pressure checked regularly. If you do have high blood pressure, reducing salt, along with getting regular physical activity, moderating alcohol intake, quitting smoking and reducing stress, might help manage it, reducing the risk of damage to your body.
Source: Queensland Health