When Does Salt Get Unhealthy?
Too much salt can damage the heart. Unfortunately, many people eat foods with excessive amounts of salt – often without realizing it. So here are some tips on the subject of salt and its effects on heart health.
If you consume too much salt, it harms the health of the heart, underlines the cardiologist Luke Laffin of the famous Cleveland Clinic (USA). But how much salt is too much and how to reduce salt intake?
The human body needs salt
Sodium is a mineral that the human body desperately needs. Salt plays an important role in the proper functioning of nerves and muscles. It also helps to keep the body’s water balance in the right balance.
Salt promotes heart attacks
However, too much sodium can cause fluid retention, which can increase blood pressure. In turn, high blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart attack, stroke and heart failure, the researchers report. Therefore, people with high blood pressure or heart disease should pay special attention to their salt intake.
How Much Sodium Is Too Much?
The WHO recommends a salt intake of less than five grams per day, or about a teaspoon of salt. However, for most Europeans, the daily salt intake is around eight to eleven grams.
With high blood pressure no more than 2300 mg of salt?
A sodium intake of 2,300 milligrams (2.3 grams) per day should not be exceeded in high blood pressure, the researchers advise. If you exceed this value, you will develop other blood pressure problems, the researchers warn.
“Almost everyone with hypertension should follow a low sodium diet,” says Dr. Luke Laffin in a press release from the Cleveland Clinic. This means limiting the daily sodium content to a maximum of 2300 mg. If you can reduce your sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg per day when you have high blood pressure, even better, continues the expert.
Follow a low sodium diet for heart failure
People with heart failure should also eat a low sodium diet. Too much salt can cause fluid to build up around the heart and lungs, which makes the heart work harder. A limit of 2,000 mg of sodium per day is proven to be good value for people with heart failure, especially if they also have high blood pressure, the researchers say.
Heart Failure: Avoid Low Sodium Levels?
There is an important caveat, however. Some data suggests that very low sodium levels in people with heart failure can also lead to worse outcomes. Therefore, if the heart is weak, sodium intake should be clarified by a doctor, advises Dr. Laffin.
Also read on the subject of heart weakness: shortness of breath and poor performance can indicate heart failure!
How does salt intake affect heart health and blood pressure? (Image: dream79 / Stock.Adobe.com)
Where does most of the salt in the diet come from?
Salt doesn’t just come from the salt shaker, it’s also found in many foods. In fact, shaker salt is a surprisingly low fraction of sodium in the average diet. Instead, the bulk of it comes from prepared and packaged foods, the team explains.
How to reduce salt intake?
When purchasing food, labels must be observed. Staple foods like bread, canned soup, and salad dressing often have a lot more sodium than you might think. Even though foods don’t taste salty, they can still be high sources of sodium. Sausages and even cheese can also contain a lot of salt.
Replace salt with other spices
Salt can be replaced with other spices and condiments. For example, add garlic, fresh herbs, or a squeeze of lemon to enhance the flavor, recommends the Cleveland Clinic cardiologist.
Order unsalted food at restaurants
The main thing that you should be careful about when dining out is to think about your food choices in advance. For example, skip soup, order fish or chicken, and request that they be prepared without salt, advises Dr. Laffin. If necessary, it can still be seasoned at the table. It is possible even in fast food restaurants to have you prepare a hamburger without salt or fries without salt if you ask in a friendly way, underlines the expert.
Is Himalayan salt healthier?
Also, don’t be fooled by different types of salt with an exotic name. Some people think that sea salt or Himalayan salt is healthier than table salt. When it comes to sodium, however, these salts affect blood pressure in the same way, explains the cardiologist. It may seem like a lot of effort to check labels, consciously avoid salt, and optimize your own diet, but your heart will thank you, sums up Dr. Laffin (as)
Author and source information
This text complies with the requirements of specialized medical literature, medical directives and ongoing studies and has been verified by healthcare professionals.
Cleveland Clinic: How Does Salt Affect Heart Health? (published October 16, 2020), Cleveland Clinic, WHO Europe: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Salt (retrieved October 16, 2020), WHO
This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.