Salt (contains sodium) which is an important mineral that we need to maintain health, it is not the enemy, but you can certainly have too much. Like many things for example water, it is really “dose dependant”, you can die from being under or over hydrated! Not everyone needs to reduce salt in their diet; in fact many people are now suffering from sodium deficiency.
Sodium, along with other essential trace nutrients helps maintain the fluid/blood balance of the body; it is also needed for muscle and nerve function. It provides chloride which the body uses to make stomach acid, so those on a low salt diet can struggle to digest protein and end up with reflux and indigestion.
Like most things in nature sodium is best if it comes in its most natural form such as sea salt, Himalayan or Murray River rock salts which are naturally rich in trace minerals in the right balance. When these salts are refined; the balance of minerals is removed and you are left with sodium chloride, which is used alone as table salt or added to packaged foods, it is not balanced in a way that your body needs.
Salt can increase your blood pressure, which is an issue for people with hypertension. Salt however, is not alone in its ability to negatively affect your blood pressure, other foods that can increase your blood pressure include alcohol, sugar and very high carbohydrate foods, which is what most packaged foods essentially are. So the sodium in packaged foods is not the only ingredient that may cause blood pressure and health problems.
If you buy the reduced sodium packaged foods and your blood pressure is still high, you need to consider avoiding packaged food altogether. Remember to look closely at the nutrition panel and ingredients list at all food that comes in packets even if you think it is healthy. Don’t be fooled; a single slice of bread can contain the same amount of sodium as a packet of chips.
Some examples of healthy naturally low sodium foods include vegetables, fruit, eggs, unsalted nuts and seeds, meat (not cured), poultry, fish, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, yoghurt, dried peas and beans.
Remember, salt is not bad for you, in the right amount and right form. Adding a pinch of salt in its natural form, like rock salt/sea salt, to your food is not an issue, the. Overconsumption relates mostly to packaged foods. You can reduce your salt intake by buying the packaged foods with lowered sodium content (sodium content no higher than 120 mg/100g). Or better yet, focus on having less packaged foods and just eating real food. Use herbs, spices, olive oil etc to flavour your food and a pinch of salt as required.
Fiona Kane, Nutritional Medicine Practitioner, Holistic Counsellor and Life Coach at the Informed Health Nutritional Wellbeing Centre