Pass the Salt Shaker!

For every mineral and vitamin that we consume, there is a U-shaped risk of disease. It can be unhealthy to consume too little or too much, so the goal is to hit the sweet spot for health.

Salt is a tricky mineral because not only do we add it to cooking water and keep the shaker handy at the table, it’s hidden in all kinds of food – from eggs to breakfast cereals to bread. In the past, the recommended salt intake was 5-6 grams per day (roughly less than a teaspoon a day) or 2 – 2.4 grams of sodium a day. We know that the effect of sodium on blood pressure is greater in patients with high blood pressure (hypertension) and hypertension is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. A low sodium diet recommended for people with hypertension sometimes went as low as 1.8 grams of sodium a day. Not only was this very difficult to adhere to, people complained that it changed the taste of their food (and not in a good way).

Well, good news– a new study done has shown that the optimal sodium intake is higher than we previously thought. The recommended amount of sodium for health is between 3 – 6 grams a day with 2.3-4.6 grams a day being optimal. It was also found that potassium, which is found in fruit and vegetables, was protective and helped to moderate sodium levels. So don’t go crazy with the salt shaker, but know that you don’t have to be quite so restrictive as previously thought.