7 Things You Probably Did Not Know About Salt

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Salt cravings start early

Researchers from the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia report that six-month-old infants who have been introduced to starchy table foods containing added salt tend to prefer salty-tasting foods 55 percent more than infants not introduced to those foods.

Less salt may save your life

A study in the British Medical Journal suggests that if we were to cut our salt intake by three grams per day, the U.S. alone would have up to 120,000 fewer cases of coronary heart disease, 66,000 fewer strokes and 99,000 fewer heart attacks annually. It could also save up to $24 billion annually in health care costs.

Too little salt is bad

More common among endurance athletes, hyponatremia occurs when a person drinks excessive amounts of water, resulting in a very low concentration of sodium in the blood. In the most serious of cases, an athlete may experience seizures, coma or even death.

Sea salt is not better

The main differences between sea and table salt are how they're processed, how they taste, and their texture - not their chemical makeup. Sea salt by nature of how it's produced - through evaporation of sea water - contains a few trace minerals depending on its source of water. Table salt, on the other hand, is mined from underground salt deposits and is usually stripped of its natural minerals (though the mineral iodine is often added).


Potassium is a neutralizer

Sodium and potassium have such a close relationship that the journal Hypertension suggests that an increase in potassium can actually lower blood pressure just as much as if you were to decrease your sodium intake. The problem is we consume way too much processed food, with a lot of salt, and that limits the effectiveness of potassium.

Other risks

Sodium and calcium are not a good pair. When sodium intake becomes too high, the body gets rid of it through urine. On the way out, it grabs hold of calcium and takes it along for the ride. This not only depletes calcium stores in the body - which is a catalyst to osteoporosis - but it also increases calcium levels in the urine, which can lead to the development of very painful kidney stones.

Go cold turkey?

Short answer is "no." The Institute of Medicine says we shouldn't exceed 2,300 mg of salt a day, though most do (by about a 1,000 mg), but it most likely won't cause harm. If you do have high blood pressure or a family history of it, you should cut back on sodium. Consult with your doctor.