Your Body On Salt

It’s an important mineral, but don’t overdo it.

Pssst . . . even ketchup has salt!

Popcorn, french fries, tortilla chips . . . without salt, these snacks just wouldn’t be the same. Used in moderation, salt can boost the flavor of food (try sprinkling some on sliced cucumber or a ripe tomato). It’s also an important mineral your body needs to function. Too little salt (aka sodium) in your diet can cause physical problems. But too much salt can be bad for you as well. It’s fine to add a few sprinkles to fresh food, but be careful not to go overboard. Many foods already contain more than you need. Before you reach for the salt shaker, learn how this mineral affects your body. 


This gland produces hormones that play an important role in your metabolism. It’s also involved in your body’s growth, development, and energy level. Your thyroid needs the mineral iodine to function properly, and iodine is commonly added to table salt.


Your kidneys need the proper amount of sodium to filter your blood effectively. Too much salt can lead to kidney disease. A high-salt diet has also been linked to a painful condition called kidney stones.


Your muscles need salt to work. If your body is low on salt, you can get muscle cramps. This can happen when you’re physically active, because you lose sodium through sweat.


The right amount of salt helps your body maintain the proper balance of fluids. Too much salt causes your body to retain a lot of fluid around your heart. This can raise your blood pressure, putting you at a greater risk for having a stroke, heart failure, or a heart attack.


Consuming too much salt has been associated with calcium loss. If you don’t have enough calcium in your bones, they may become thin and weak and at risk of breaking more easily.

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