Meet my Frenemy, Salt.

14 Apr

Oh, salt.

Such mixed feelings I have about thee. Just last night I sprinkled the lightest dusting of you ever upon my roasted veggies and this morning I’ve got sausage fingers. I’m not sure I like you much.

Doesn’t help your cause that I grew up believing you were health enemy #1 (well, maybe not #1 but you were up there). I mean, yeah it was the 80’s and everyone was saying that too much of you would definitely lead to to high blood pressure and an untimely death from cardiovascular disease, and I don’t like the way you make my mouth taste so we’ve never really been besties.

But I’m starting to have second thoughts about wanting to keep my distance all the time.

WTF would change my mind after all these years?  Because recently, a suppressed memory from high school Chemistry popped into my head in the middle of a rant about how salt makes my eyes hurt.  I actually remembered that salt isn’t an enemy.  It’s more like, a frenemy. Really great, until it’s not. A high salt intake isn’t good for the ol’ ticker and salt gets a terrible rep but did you know the human body actually needs a pinch or two of salt to function properly? So don’t be a hater.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that healthy adults consume 1500 mg of sodium (3.8 grams of salt), to replace the amount lost daily on average through sweat and urination. The minimum physiological requirement of sodium simply to sustain life has been estimated to be 500 mg of sodium per day.

Believe it or not, sodium is a vital nutrient. I won’t go all Bill Nye on you, but our bodies rely on electrolytes, including salt, to carry impulses that control many crucial bodily functions.  It’ss especially important to the nervous, digestive, and muscular systems.  It stimulates the adrenal glands, protects us from sunstroke and heat related problems, and helps the kidneys and stomach absorb nutrients.  Without salt, blood pressure can fall too low, and it’s very important to consume enough from outside sources in order to meet the minimum requirement.

Salt intake is a bit of a balancing act. I feel it’s definitely safe to say that as a society we consume way too much, but a deficiency can lead to nasty conditions like dehydration (counter-intuitive, right?), low blood pressure, and shock. Worst case scenario? Brain swelling, coma, and congestive heart failure. Sweet.

So, go ahead and use a little of that yummy crunchy sea salt here and there (especially that trendy pink kind you slice off a rock, it’s pretty), just don’t go balls out. A little does a body good.

salt

 

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