Potato chips, popcorn, fries, nuts. All popular foods have a main thing in common—lots of salt. Many people find a salty taste pleasant, but salt is more than simply adding saltiness. It can also enhance sweetness and hide unpleasant metallic or chemical flavors, rounding out the overall balance of flavors and improving the taste of food. Flavor can also be enhanced by adding herbs, spices, and vinegar's, but adding salt is a cheap and easy way to make food taste good.
Unfortunately, consuming too much salt has been associated with high blood pressure, which can damage the heart and blood vessels and increase the risk of a heart attack and stroke. For decades,we recommended consuming less salt. But reduced consumption of salt has not been shown to reduce blood pressure and has not led to a decrease in heart attack and stroke in the population. Yet current guidelines still call for limiting salt intake to stay healthy. So how much salt do we actually need to take to stay healthy?
According to research a person who reduces salt intake from median levels (around 3,400 milligrams (mg)) to the federal recommended levels (no more than 2,300 mg) typically sees a slight drop of 1% to 2% in blood pressure, on average.
Also, other factors affect blood pressure. For example, blood pressure increases with weight gain and decreases with weight loss. So, keeping a healthy weight can help prevent high blood pressure. Eating foods high in potassium also seems to counter some of the effects of high salt consumption on blood pressure.
Also, over the years, salt consumption remained steady, even though manufacturers added more salt to commercial foods. This consistency in salt intake suggests that people may somehow automatically regulate the amount of salt they eat. If that is true, does it mean people instinctively choose the right amount of salt? Or perhaps people used less salt at the table in an attempt to follow the new guidelines but unknowingly consumed more salt in their prepared foods.
Salt, especially the sodium ions (Na+) present in its NaCl structure, is essential to the functioning of every cell in our bodies. Compounds containing sodium and potassium are electrolytes, substances that dissolve in water and produce ions. The resulting solution conducts an electric current. In the human body, many processes require electrical signals for communication, especially in the nervous system, brain, and muscles.
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