Salt is vital to our body, because without salt, certain bodily functions could not be sustained. However, we should not take too much salt - this is especially true for people with high blood pressure or kidney problems. Otherwise they can cause health problems. We reveal the role of salt in the body, whether it involves risks, and how much salt should be ingested daily as part of a healthy diet.
What is salt?
Common salt consists - as the chemical name sodium chloride already suggests - almost exclusively of the two minerals Chlorine and sodium. In addition, small amounts of other minerals are often included: for example, salts may also contain traces of calcium or magnesium.
Most cooking salts are nowadays Enriched with iodine, to ensure the iodine supply of the population. The trace element is important for the thyroid, because without iodine, it could not produce its vital hormones. Besides iodine, some table salts contain as well Fluoride.
Salt is vital
The salt contained in the salt has a variety of functions in the body: For example, it is important for the tissue tension (osmotic pressure) and thereby influences the fluid and nutrient balance of the body.
In addition, sodium plays a role:
- during bone formation
- in stimulus transmission
- in muscle relaxation
Salt as a health risk?
For many years, a high-salt diet was considered a risk factor for the development of hypertension. But whether this really is so, is today controversial among scientists. Recent studies indicate that even very high salt intake only minimally increases blood pressure. On the other hand, a low-salt diet should also be able to lower the blood pressure only minimally.
However, in certain conditions, such as high blood pressure, cirrhosis of the liver, or impaired kidney function, it is important to keep salt intake low. Otherwise, cardiovascular problems or, in the case of renal impairment, edema may occur. Even healthy people should not overdo it, the best way to find a good middle ground.
In fact, too little salt does not seem to be good either: a Belgian study suggests that too little salt intake can lead to health problems. According to the researchers, people who have low urinary salt content are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease. But even this study result is controversial.
How much salt is healthy?
To be on the safe side, choose the golden mean: not too much, but not too little salt. There are no uniform guidelines for salt consumption. Generally, adolescents and adults are recommended every day between five and six grams of salt take.
In Germany, however, salt intake is sometimes well above recommended use. For example, men consume around 8.8 grams of salt per day and women 6.3 grams per day. The difference between the sexes is probably explained by the fact that women consume heavily salted products such as sausages or meat in smaller quantities.
5 facts about salt - © istockphoto, Vasilyevalara
Salt in food
The high salt intake is particularly through hidden salts in food. Often we do not even notice that we eat something salted. About 85 percent of salt consumption takes place this way. The salting at the table, however, is usually of little consequence.
Larger amounts of salt are included, for example, in sausages and meat, but also in certain cheeses. Likewise, bread and other baked goods as well as dairy products contain larger amounts of salt. Extremely salty are usually also finished products, especially food in tin cans.
This can reduce your salt intake
So that you do not lose sight of your salt intake, you should always cook fresh and preferably use no finished products. From time to time, you should also be aware of low-salt foods such as potatoes, pasta, rice, oatmeal, fruit, fresh or frozen vegetables, as well as skimmed quark and yoghurt.
In addition, the following tips can help you to avoid too much salt: