Salt is a compound element made up of sodium and chloride. It can also contain iodine or be neutral.
Salt has health benefits. For example,
- Sodium is essential for nerve and muscle function and is involved in the regulation of fluids in the body. Sodium also plays a role in the body’s control of blood pressure and volume. (University of Hawaii)
- Chloride is a crucial component in the production of stomach acid (HCl). (University of Hawaii)
- Iodine is an important nutrient that your thyroid needs to produce certain hormones. Iodized salt is probably the easiest way to maintain sufficient iodine intake. (Mayo Clinic)
- It is also used as an electrolyte replacement for folks who have experienced prolonged vomiting or diarrhea. As always, please check with your doctor before any medicinal use.
According to the University of Hawaii, humans excrete salt when sweating and must replenish the lost sodium and chloride ions through their diet.
We use Salt in cooking and most of us will add a little more from those shakers on our foods. Salt is also good for seasoning foods else the food will taste bland. But excessive salt in foods could have other devastating impacts on one’s health.
The medicals again
I experienced for the first time the impact of salt relative to high blood pressure. My blood pressure (BP) readings have been normal, (see the above chart for the different BP categories) particularly the week prior to my recent medicals. I was happy with the results. Until that morning. And the cause was eating a slightly salty pasta dinner the night before.
The night before my appointment, I had chicken pesto on pasta. It was somewhat salty but I ate anyways because it was the leftover I had planned to have. It wasn’t salty on the day I cooked it. I figured the seasonings settled into the pasta sauce a few days afterwards.
Fasting wasn’t required for the medicals, but I chose to fast anyways since I had a morning appointment. As previously posted, all readings were impressive. However, I was disappointed that my blood pressure was elevated. I was shocked. My initial thoughts were that the “anxiety” of coming for a medicals caused it. The technician interrupted my thoughts and suddenly asked “what did you have for dinner?” I told him. His next question was “was it salty?” I stared at him while replying “how did you know? Yes, it was. I’ve had normal readings for the week.” I brought out my phone to show him the readings. The salt added at least 20 mm Hg to the upper reading despite a twelve-hour fasting.
Did you know that drinking lots of water after a salty meal will help flush it out?
The technician advised that drinking lots of water will help flush it out next time. Now, I know. How about you?
Myths or Tales?
I have since resorted to cooking with alternatives which are half the sodium content and not add extras to the meal. It takes getting used to but once you are used to it, the slightest salt on foods now taste salty. You find yourself complaining that a meal is salty and others are staring at you in wonder that there’s none in it at all. It’s sure an acquired taste.
I’ve often heard not to add salt to cooked foods and to reduce the amount in cooking. I have now experienced the impact of a salty meal on my blood pressure and I do not like it.
Types of Salt
Sea salt. Table salt. Kosher salt. Pink salt. Coarse salt. Fine salt. All salts are the same. I’ve heard that sea salt is better, while others say that kosher salt is preferred.
Whatever salt you choose to use, use it in moderation. Be aware of the sodium content of every food/grocery item you purchase and monitor your blood pressure regularly.
For more detailed information on salt and high blood pressure, click on the below links to find out.