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Sodium is one of the primary electrolytes in
the body (the other two are potassium and calcium). Too
much or too little salt in the diet can lead to muscle
cramps, dizziness, or even an electrolyte disturbance,
which can cause severe, even fatal, neurological problems.
Drinking too much water with insufficient salt intake,
puts a person at risk of water intoxication.
Quick Page Summary: Try to limit
your intake of salt, as too much can be unhealthy.
Instead, try to replace the salt with herbs and spices.
When you do eat salt, get unrefined, iodized sea salt,
as it has extra minerals and nutrients missing from
normal table salt.
and Potassium" section of the USDA's Dietary
Guidelines for Americans 2005 suggests that you
should consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium (= 2.3g sodium
= 5.8g salt) per day.
There is significant evidence that high sodium intakes
can cause hypertension (high blood pressure), which is
can cause of strokes and heart disease. Diets high in salt
can also trigger osteoporosis, as salt in excess can cause
calcium to be excreted in the urine. Additionally, salt
can damage the vitamin content when cooking or steaming
Table Salt vs. Sea Salt
Unrefined sea salt is often thought to be better than
table salt, as table salt lacks many of the beneficial
minerals found in unrefined sea salt, including magnesium,
iodine, and over 21 essential and 30 accessory minerals
essential to our health. All three
electrolytes (sodium, potassium, and calcium) are available
in unrefined salt, as are other vital minerals needed for
optimal bodily function. Table salt loses these minerals
and electrolytes during the refining process, then usually
has iodine put
back in (along with some unhealthy additives, including
sugar). Some critics argue that unrefined sea salt doesn't
have enough natural iodine to make it a good choice. Fortunately,
there's a solution: Iodized, unrefined sea salt, which
has extra iodine added to it.
Tip: Beware refined sea salt, which has undergone a refining
process similar to rock salt removing the minerals and
typically adding unwanted additives.
Tips for Reducing Salt Intake
It's easy to obtain all the sodium
you need without adding any salt to food at the table or
while cooking. If you're hooked
on salt, try these tips:
Your taste buds will adjust to
having less salt if you gradually
cut down on adding salt to your
food. Eventually, you'll be
able to use little to none!
Try using lemon juice, fresh
or dried herbs, or spices to flavor
food, rather than salt.
Table sauces, even organic ones,
are usually very high in salt.
Try using low-salt or no-salt sauces
- Always buy low-salt versions of
things like potato chips and tortilla
- Vegan cheese, tofu, and hummus,
and most processed foods (including
cereals) are often eaten regularly
by vegans, but they are still quite
high in salt and so should be used
sensibly. Try making your own low-salt
variations, when possible, as healthy
Salt substitutes have a taste
similar to table salt and contain mostly
potassium chloride, which increase
potassium intake. Because excess potassium
intake can cause potentially fatal
hyperkalemia, you should check with
your physician before
using salt substitutes. Various diseases
and medications may decrease the body's
excretion of potassium, thereby increasing
the risk of hyperkalemia. If you have
kidney failure, heart failure or have
diabetes, you should not use a low
salt variety without medical advice.
A better alternative to salt is to
simply use flavorful herbs and spices.
Many no-salt seasonings are available
that are both tasty and healthful.