Why You Should Eat Salt

While the prevailing health advisors caution us to cut back on salt intake, there is mounting evidence that sodium restriction actually causes more harm than good and puts us at greater risk for heart disease and death. A study published in American Journal of Hypertension indicated that people who restricted salt intake increased their risk of death. Furthermore, the risk for heart disease was 56% higher for the low salt group than for those that ate the most salt!

While most of us cut salt intake in order to maintain a healthy blood pressure and fend of cardiovascular risk, this study from PubMed found that if one has adequate minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium available in the diet, then a high blood pressure reaction to sodium does not occur. In other words, those who experience high blood pressure from eating salt, do not have sufficient calcium, magnesium and potassium levels. A standard American diet high in sodium and low in vegetables can result in high blood pressure due to the lack of minerals. The study found that many individuals that increased sodium intake (and also had a good base of calcium, magnesium and potassium), actually achieved lower blood pressures.

A healthy blood pressure is about 115/75, and it is about being balanced, not necessarily low. If you have very low blood pressure such as 100/60, then that is not optimal and should be addressed with nutrition.

Salt is important for multiple functions in the body. On the cellular level, it extracts and gets rid of acids and helps the tissues remain alkaline. Salt is important for smooth muscle function such as healthy bladder control. It also is a natural anti-histamine and helps the body eliminate excess waste. It is crucial for healthy reproduction and sexual function.

Generally, I suggest 1/2 tsp daily of raw sea salt such as Baja Gold (which we carry for $10/lb) and 48 oz water minimum. For those with blood pressure problems, or a less than optimal blood sodium level below 145, I typically suggest more. I encourage everyone to get their routine bloodwork done. If you are not testing, you are guessing! An optimal sodium level is 143-145. Once someone drops below sodium level of 140, health problems can develop.