Salt is necessary for normal body functioning. It is also referred to as sodium chloride and helps in maintaining the fluid balance in the body. Salt is also used as a preservative in many foods, since it prevents spoilage and keeps specific foods safe for consumption. It has been noted that virtually all Americans consume more than needed salt content. This is according to the American’s Dietary Guidelines. The United States Department of Health and Human Services publishes these guidelines every five years. About ten percent of the total intake is accounted for by the natural salt in food. Another five to ten percent is accounted for by the salt added at the table.
Health Effects of Excessive Salt
Salt contributes to hypertension (high-blood pressure) in most people. Hypertension overloads the heart and may cause stroke, heart disease, kidney disease and heart failure.
Daily-Recommended Sodium Content for Adults
The salt amount in food is often labeled as “sodium” on the Nutritional Facts Panel. According to the Dietary Guidelines, it is recommended for the general population to consume at least 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily. This is approximately one teaspoon of salt. Salt sensitivity differs in different people, in that some people show a higher sensitivity level compared to others. Sensitive people should consume at most 1,500 milligrams of salt each day.
Steps to Lowering Daily Salt Intake
There are a number of steps that can be taken to lower the daily salt intake. One of the key steps is eating more fresh vegetables and fruits. Such foods contain less salt. Another step is consumption of foods that have high potassium levels. The effects of sodium on blood pressure can be curbed by potassium.