It may be a pantry staple, but salt comes with a side serve of dangerous consequences, according to dietitian Melissa Meier.
You add it to your sweet potato chips, sprinkle it over your meat and veg, and use it to perk up soups, but of course salt – also known as sodium – isn’t simply an innocent flavour-booster.
As well as causing digestive upset and dehydration, eating too much salt can also lead to long-term health issues. But how much is too much? And are the effects really that bad? Accredited dietitian Melissa Meier has the answers.
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Why you need salt
It’s important to note that a diet without salt can be just as dangerous as one with too much salt. “Sodium plays a key role in balancing blood and fluid volume in your body,” Meier tells Body+Soul.
This balance is critical for the proper functioning of your heart, liver and kidneys.
Too much of a good thing
Although current guidelines recommend eating no more than 2000mg of sodium (less than one teaspoon of salt) per day, most Australians consume almost twice this amount – and it’s taking a toll.
“Salt is not good news for your ticker,” Meier tells Body+Soul. “Too much can raise your blood pressure, which is strongly linked to heart disease, and a high intake of salt is also linked to other health problems like kidney stones, stroke and osteoporosis.”
While it can be tempting to add salt to enhance your dishes, Meier says it’s not necessary. “Small amounts of sodium are found naturally in many wholefoods,” she explains.
“Commercial wholegrain bread, for example, contains almost 400mg of sodium in just two slices and a cup of milk contains almost 100mg.”
How much salt should I be eating every day?
According to Meier, most adults require somewhere between 460mg and 920mg of sodium per day.
To keep your levels within a healthy range, eat mostly wholefoods and watch out for the salt content in supposedly healthy products, such as stocks, which should come with a low-sodium label and be flavoured with enough herbs to not require an extra sprinkle.
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram.
Plant-based since 1982, Massel is Australian made and owned and makes the best tasting stocks and gravies.