Pros and cons of salt consumption and tips on reducing intake

Salt is made up of sodium and chloride. Pictures: World Health Organisation

Salt is made up of sodium and chloride. Pictures: World Health Organisation

Published Mar 15, 2022


Salt is made up of sodium and chloride. The former is essential for our bodies. The latter, quite the reverse; chloride is an electrolyte.

“Electrolytes are electrically charged atoms found in biological fluids”.

These atoms are essential for all “from nerve impulses to fluid equilibrium”, but the electrolyte chloride “is the blood’s second most abundant”.

However, “it’s important that the body gets enough chloride for optimal health”, health insurance company, Affinity Health, asserts. Otherwise, your blood may become more acidic; this results in ‘respiratory acidosis’”.

Affinity Health presents the pros and cons of salt consumption in a recent media release.

Pros of salt consumption

“Sodium keeps nerves functioning and keeps blood volume and pressure in check”, the media report states.

High-Salt Diet Outcomes

– Raised blood pressure.

– Bloating.

– Water retention.

– Excessive thirst.

– Hypernatremia.

– Risk of stomach cancer is higher.

Cons of low salt consumption

Although salt consumption in excess presents health concerns a plenty, not consuming enough is detrimental as well.

Low-Salt Diet Outcomes

“Reduced-salt diets have been associated with higher blood cholesterol and triglycerides levels.”

Results in hyponatremia, (low blood sodium)

– Higher blood cholesterol.

– Triglyceride.

Sodium requirements

According to the dietary guideline released by Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United States (FOA), daily sodium intake should remain below 2 300mg.

The CEO of Affinity Health, Murray Hewlett, however, pronounces that “it would almost be impossible to consume this little” given that sodium’s presence in salt is but 40% (with the remaining parts being chloride).

He declares that it would not be enough for the required sodium intake essential for us since “that equates to one teaspoon of salt”.

The case, however, is different for everyone. Those who cannot tolerate high amounts of salt intake are salt-sensitive and “may need to watch their sodium intake more closely than others”.

On the other hand, “some people are unaffected by a high-salt diet”.

“Nearly 8 in 10 South Africans over the age of 55 years have high blood pressure, and they could all benefit from a low salt diet.”

Tips to simit Salt intake

Affinity Health recommends:

– Reading food labels.

– Choosing less salty options.

– Reducing fast-food intake restaurant visits.

– Avoiding condiments sold at stores; they’re high in sodium. Opt for lower-sodium versions. Alternatively, make your own that consists of little to no salt.

“While you can continue to season your food with salt to add taste, do so sparingly.”

Or, the group suggests, “experiment with different spices for extra flavour, such as coriander, black pepper, parsley, rosemary, thyme, garlic or onion powder, bay leaf, oregano, or dill” as opposed to adding salt.