Are you one of those people who took the salt shaker off the table? Well, at least you listened to your doctor. But, is it really that harmful? Should it be avoided at all costs?
What is salt exactly?
Common salt is made up of 40% sodium and 60% chloride. Of these two, Sodium is the one that raises the most doubts → It is an essential electrolyte. This means that our body cannot synthesize it and, therefore, we need to provide it through diet.
Sodium functions 💪🏼
These are its main functions:
- Regulate blood volume and pressure
- Regulate muscle and nerve activity
- Regulate hydrolysis of ATP in skeletal muscle
- Regulate acid-base balance of the body
- Regulate internal temperature
- Intervene in digestion and transport of nutrients
Plus, it is essential to maintain our cardiac rhythm and regulates fluid balance in the body.
Having said that, it seems clear enough that it is important to ingest enough sodium. If you eat less than your daily needs, it can be harmful.
Now, let’s get to the point.
Does salt intake cause hypertension?
The answer is no. 🙃
The observed change in blood pressure occurs when there is an imbalance between SODIUM and POTASSIUM (another electrolyte involved in fluid balance). This imbalance is NOT caused by the normal intake of “table salt”, but by a high consumption of ultra-processed foods (with very high amounts of sodium) and a low “real food” consumption (higher potassium intake).
It is understood, therefore, that in a context in which the diet is based on real food with an occasional consumption of ultra-processed foods, the salt that we use in our culinary preparations does not represent a problem in healthy people.
Then, what should we do?
We can use sea salt or iodized salt. And as for the so-called pink Himalayan salt to which so many benefits have been attributed, just tell you that it has no more benefits than common salt.
The bottom line is: In people with hypertension, the recommendations may be different and each case should be treated individually. But don’t blame it all on the salt!