6 truths about excessive salt intake

Common salt, or sodium chloride, is a mineral compound that we use regularly as a condiment. However, for several years, experts are warning of possible excessive salt intake in much of the population.

It has become classified as white poison, like table sugar or refined flours, especially because consuming a large amount for prolonged periods can lead to health problems. Is everything that is said about salt consumption true? 

Next, we want to detail some of the most important truths about the excessive consumption of this ingredient. Pay attention and try to comply with the recommendations given.

1. Excessive salt intake raises blood pressure

There are scientific studies that relate excessive salt intake to a higher risk of hypertension.

There is strong evidence that suggests that salt plays an important role in the appearance of high blood pressure. Having high blood pressure chronically is known as high blood pressure.

In turn, this is a factor that increases the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease, one of the leading causes of death in industrialized countries. 

Some tests carried out in countries such as the United Kingdom, Japan or Finland showed that the reduction in daily salt intake led to a reduction in arterial hypertension and stroke mortality.

However, as the experts themselves point out, these results could have been reinforced by other healthy habits acquired at the same time. 

2. Consuming a lot of salt is a risk factor for stomach cancer

Today, stomach cancer remains one of the most common types of cancer. Geographical variations in incidence rates made researchers think that there may be some relationship between this type of cancer and eating habits.

The main dietary factors related to this disease include regular consumption of smoked foods, products preserved in salt and foods rich in nitrates. 

There are some epidemiological studies that have analyzed the relationship between excessive salt intake and stomach cancer. A meta-analysis of longitudinal studies found that:

“There is a strong adverse relationship between total salt intake and foods high in salt and the risk of gastric cancer in the general population .”

In some research, special emphasis is placed on canned meat, fish or salt vegetables. Therefore,  clinical and epidemiological evidence indicates that a reduction in the intake of salt and salt-rich products could lead to a drop in the incidence rate of stomach cancer.

3. Kidney patients should control the salt in their diet

In people with chronic kidney problems, it is important to avoid excessive salt intake. The kidney diseases chronic are linked to risk factors for heart disease and worsening renal function.

Given the role that the kidneys play in sodium balance, it is important to moderate salt intake in these patients.  In a review of scientific studies, positive effects on arterial hypertension and sodium excretion were observed within 24 hours.

In addition, the risk of edema was reduced, however, the long-term effects of salt reduction could not be determined (such as for example, total mortality reduction or worsening renal function). 

4. We consume too much salt

Most people exceed the recommended daily salt intake. Many times we do not consider hidden salt in regular consumer products.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a salt intake of about 5 grams per day. The problem is that today, the average salt consumption exceeds, and quite a lot, the recommendations of all current guidelines, both in adults and children.

In some countries where it has been quantified, an average of 8 to 12 grams of salt is ingested daily. .

5. Beware of salt that we do not control

In general, the excessive salt consumption of a large part of the population does not come from the salt we add in the kitchen. It is estimated that this may represent between 20 and 25% of the total. The salt present in the food we buy has a much more important weight. 

The most important part comes from the consumption of:

  • Broths and prepared soups, bouillon cubes.
  • Commercial sauces
  • Bread, cookies and breakfast cereals.
  • Sausages and other meat preparations such as frankfurts or sausages.
  • Snacks and salted nuts.

Therefore, one of the best measures we can take to reduce salt intake is to choose fresh foods, whenever possible, giving priority to alternatives such as:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Vegetables
  • Raw dried fruit
  • Whole grains
  • Fish
  • Fresh lean meat

6. It is dangerous to reduce salt intake too much

Salt, neither too much nor too little. The healthy, as in many cases,   is in balance. We have seen that we must monitor its excessive consumption. However, we must not eliminate it completely or reduce it to minimum quantities, especially if we are healthy people.

Salt is also necessary, because, thanks to sodium, our body is able to maintain a good level of hydration, transport oxygen and nutrients, and produce nerve stimulation. 

Insufficient or very low consumption can lead to health problems. Paradoxically, both high and low salt intake is a risk factor for high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. 

So, given some truths about its consumption, we already know that salt in the diet, in its right measure. Ask your doctor or nutritionist if you have questions about it.