Showing posts with label stomach cancer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label stomach cancer. Show all posts

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Health Benefits of Salt? Actually, Yes!

It may seem almost like sacrilege to suggest that salt could have health benefits. After all, in many articles and studies, sodium (a significant component of salt) has been named as the culprit in such crimes to our health as high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, stomach cancer, and osteoporosis. But not all the research agrees on the health risks of salt:
  • A 2011 meta-analysis found no strong connection between reducing salt to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke, not only among those with normal blood pressure, but also those with high blood pressure.
  • A 2014 meta-analysis determined that both low sodium intakes and high sodium intakes are associated with increased mortality.
  • A 2013 study found that those on a low-sodium diet were more likely to experience heart failure than those on a high-sodium diet.
  • A report from the Institute of Medicine found no evidence that a low sodium diet (below 2.300 grams) reduced the likelihood of cardiovascular disease.
  • A 2014 study involving data from over 100,000 individuals found that those who consume below 3 grams of sodium daily had nearly a third higher risk of death, heart attack, or stroke compared to those who consumed between 3 and 6 grams.
In spite of most people believing that salt is bad for you, its primary element – sodium – is a mineral. Like many other minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium, salt can be beneficial for most of us. In the right amount, it's even fundamental to good health.

Often, the problem with salt consumption is not what salt is, but rather how much salt we consume, or, as some believe, what kind of salt we consume.

How much is too much salt?


Your maximum salt intake will depend on a number of variables, including your overall diet, health, family history, ethnicity, and the amount and type of exercise you get. 

For example, according to this medical report, potassium intake matters a great deal, as potassium can counteract the blood pressure risks of a high salt intake. A high potassium intake relaxes blood vessels, which helps your body excrete sodium and decrease blood pressure.

The problem is that the average American eats about 6 to 10 grams of salt daily, even as the recommendation (from such sources as World Health Organization, the American Heart Association, and many U.S. government agencies) for healthy adults is less than 2.3 mg of sodium per day.

Even as there may be disagreement in the medical research regarding whether or not low sodium diets are better for the average person, there is general agreement that a daily sodium consumption above 6-7 grams increases certain health risks.

Types of salt


Dietary salt, or table salt, is used in food to preserve and flavor it. Its primary component is sodium chloride – about 40 percent.

The most common forms of salt you can buy at your local supermarket include:
  • Regular table salt – Ordinary table salt, which is generally the most affordable kind of salt, is processed under heat and bleaching to remove all elements but its sodium chloride content and to make it white. The processing usually involves giving salt additives, such as iodine.
  • Sea salt – Sea salt is effectively evaporated seawater, minimally or not processed, and therefore will contain trace mineral levels (notably calcium, magnesium, and potassium) not present in regular table salt. Some sea salts have less sodium by volume because of their larger crystal size.
  • Himalayan pink salt – Pink in color, Himalayan pink salt is a rock salt, often preferred by health advocates because it is not as processed as table salt and, therefore, contains many other healthy substances, such as trace minerals. In a chemical analysis, Himalayan salt is shown to have more than 80 trace minerals and other elements.
Many health experts recommend that you get your salt from natural sources, in order to avoid additives and to benefit from salt’s other compounds that are often lost or removed in processing.

Sodium/Salt Health Risks


As with any dietary change, you are advised to speak with your physician or another qualified health provider who can answer questions and give advice based on the specifics of your medical condition.

Generally, consuming salt in moderation is safe. Those who should consume even less than the standard recommended amount include:
  • Individuals over 50 years of age
  • Those with high blood pressure
  • Individuals with diabetes or chronic kidney disease
  • African Americans
Those in these high risk groups are generally advised to consume less than 1,500 mg (1.5 grams) of sodium per day.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer