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Health Risks of Salt in Your Diet

Updated on February 16, 2017
Salt. It affects your health.
Salt. It affects your health. | Source

Significant health risks are associated with high intake of salt in your diet. The mineral compound sodium chloride occurs in table salt, processed foods, and naturally occurs in certain foods as well. While regular high consumption of salt is detrimental to your health, African-Americans generally suffer more from the effects than do Caucasians.

Intake of Salt within Your Diet

Salt is in many processed foods. The substance increases the shelf life of these products. Given the ease of consuming ready-made foods such as cans of soup, many diets are high in salt. It also occurs in foods you eat in restaurants, in the saltshaker, and is naturally occurring in foods such as chicken as well.

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Health Risks of Excess Salt

A diet with excess salt intake correlates with some chronic illnesses. The serious health conditions include high blood pressure and pre-hypertension. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, increases your risks of heart disease and stroke.

The reason for the larger risks is that salt increases fluids in your body, which move into the bloodstream. The high fluid levels overwork your heart, enlarging the organ and weakening it too. You are especially vulnerable if your family has a strong history of heart disease.

Regularly high consumption of salt is also harmful for people with kidney disease. The disease makes it difficult for your kidneys to eliminate excess sodium and fluid in your body. As levels of sodium and fluid increase, your blood pressure rises as well.

Health risks increase further when high sodium intake combines with high consumption of solid fats, sugars, and refined grains. A diet with high salt levels also reduces bone density. Short term effects may include dizziness and muscle cramps.

Race and Salt Levels

Different races process salt differently within the body. A study by Purdue University of African-American and Caucasian adolescent girls found that black females retained more sodium in a high-salt diet than white females. Study subjects in both groups had the same strictly controlled and monitored diets.

Given the results of studies such as the one conducted by Purdue University, black people seem to be more susceptible to hypertension than do their white counterparts.

Limit how often salt is added to dishes.
Limit how often salt is added to dishes. | Source

Salt as an Essential Nutrient

Although diets high in salt have health risks, small levels of consumption are necessary. Salt is an essential nutrient that regulates fluids in your body and helps send electrical signals to your brain, nervous system, and muscles. As a food ingredient, salt enhances flavors of foods, cures meats, and retains moisture in foods.

In the Dietary Guidelines for American 2010 document, the US Departments of Agriculture and of Health and Human Services recommends daily sodium intake of less than 2,300 milligrams (mg). For adults 51 years and older, reduce that amount to 1,500 mg. Also, reduce to the 1,500 mg level if you are African-American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.

While salt is an essential part of your diet, consumption needs to be in small amounts. Higher salt intake correlates with higher blood pressure. With lower intake, blood pressure lowers in response. To maintain low salt levels, children and adults can eat fewer foods that are high in sodium. Read Nutrition Facts labels on foods to find sodium amounts and choose items low in sodium. Choose to eat fewer processed foods and more fresh foods. Also, ask that no salt be part of dishes you order out in restaurants. Regardless of race, sodium does affect your health.

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    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      That's great that we have related hubs. Yes, adding polls is a great way to interact more with readers.

    • Chuck Bluestein profile image

      Chuck Bluestein 

      4 years ago from Morristown, AZ, USA

      Your high blood pressure toll was a good idea. 46% said that they have had it. I need to put some tolls on my articles. I also just noticed that 2 of my hubs are listed below this one.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Glad to be able to provide information to better one's health. Take care, Rebecca!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      I have always heard a lot of salt was bad, but no one explained how like this. I didn't know salt occurred naturally in chicken. Thanks for the warnings!

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks Chuck for adding in such clear health advice here. Your knowledge is great and the detail you provide here adds to my hub. Appreciated!

    • Chuck Bluestein profile image

      Chuck Bluestein 

      5 years ago from Morristown, AZ, USA

      Dr. Oz has instructions on how to eat a healthy diet. He does not say to not eat processed foods since someone may not be sure of what that is. He says to eat foods that have no ingredient list. An apple has no ingredient list. Spinach does not have an ingredient list. Frozen spinich that says Ingredients: spinach, salt has an ingredient list. I just saw an article that says that apples are just as good as statin drugs.

      Sodium is an essential mineral. Also the Trader Joes spaghetti sauce does not have oil like you put in a car but organic olive oil. It says on the front NO SALT ADDED but not a sodium free food. A half ounce cup of it contains 35 mg of sodium. A large pizza usually has over 3,000 mg of sodium.

    • Chuck Bluestein profile image

      Chuck Bluestein 

      5 years ago from Morristown, AZ, USA

      Salt (sodium chloride) is not a necessary chemical in your diet. Sodium is and it is in almost all fruits and vegetables but in much smaller amounts. There is no salt inside of any food unless placed there by man. Seaweed is high in sodium and lots of trace minerals.

      Salt causes people to eat more. It also causes water retention that is bad for arteries and causes people to be heavier. If someone is overweight and eats no salt for a week, they will lose about 15 pounds.

      If someone puts 4 ounces of salt in water and drinks it, they will be dead in an hour due to hypernatremia (excess sodium in blood). Trader Joe's has done what no one else has done. They have spaghetti sauce with no salt added. I use it. But it does have organic tomato paste, organic tomato, organic garlic, organic dried onion, organic oil, organic basil and more. Voted up and awesome for making people aware of it.

    • My Cook Book profile image

      Dil Vil 

      5 years ago from India

      This is informative and very helpful hub. High consumption of salt regularly is very risky. Good hub, well written. Great work!

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 

      5 years ago from Jamaica

      I do not use salt in my diet, so I am very happy to read your article and I couldn't agree more about over consumption.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      5 years ago from England

      Hi Christy, I do try to keep my salt to a minimum, but I can't go without it, which is a shame as so many foodstuffs have too much already, never realised that there was a difference between races and how much salt etc, fascinating reading, thanks! voted and shared! nell

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      The intake of salt should be carefully considered and you have mentioned all the good points here. Great suggestions too.

    • remaniki profile image

      Rema T V 

      5 years ago from Chennai, India

      Hi Christy,

      Just as much as I agree with everything you have said here, it came as a shock to us when my mother was diagnosed with "hyponatremia", a condition that occurs when sodium level in the body goes below the standard levels. A hub on this condition is actually overdue and can be expected soon.

      It is quite normal to be aware of our high salt intake and try to reduce it consciously and so it was with our family too. But poor mom, she went down with this illness and had to be kept in the Intensive Care Unit for almost a month and had to be on a 'very high dosage' of salt-30g/per day can you believe it- for more than six months to get cured of this condition. My mother miraculously survived a coma. Very strange but it happened.

      My sister-in-law who is American, told me that she hadn't even heard about such a condition. In my mother' case they say it was caused by her hypertension medicines.

      Thanks for this great write-up Christy-it has given rise to many thoughts and opinions. Sharing it in many places. Cheers, Rema.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank-you everyone for your great comments here! I love learning about your experiences, which helps me determine what to write about next and about current concerns. I am glad to read that many of you are watching your salt intake and I appreciate the shares and votes. Stay healthy!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Valuable info. I don't add salt to foods (rarely), but I probably eat too many things that have high amounts, such as canned or frozen foods. Dang, why do we have so many things to look out for! Great hub!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Salt really is so much in so much! I do watch my salt and maybe a lot of people don't know it but giving up salt can help you lose weight. The two times I was pregnant, I was on a low to no salt diet and after my babies were born I weighed less than before I became pregnant. Skinny ankles and all.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hi Christy, this is a useful and well-written hub. Canned soups such as Campbell and Progresso have tons of salt. Ragu tomato sauce does too. I notice many people put too much salt in their fries and food at restaurants.

    • DanaTeresa profile image

      Dana Strang 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      With high blood pressure and a family history of heart problems, I should be watching my salt more than I should. Not to mention for the other reasons you mention...

      I had a coworker that was having a horrible time losing weight, She started dropping the pounds when she cut back on salt!!! Must have been all of the fluid retention.

      Great info here!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      My father-in-law loves his salt.

      We are trying to get him to cut back. I will certainly pass this to him! Thanks for sharing!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      6 years ago from Nepal

      Christy, I was aware about health risk of too much salt, but did not know many of the things you have mentioned here.

      Happy New Year! I wish you all the success in your life.


    • Mike Robbers profile image

      Mike Robbers 

      6 years ago from London

      very interesting and well researched article and quite important knowledge even if I've never suffered from high blood pressure .. thank you

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Christy, I must forward this to my father-in-law who takes in way too much salt! Thanks for sharing, and I'm passing it along.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 

      6 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Christy... wonderful article and something I have been paying attention to a great deal lately. All one needs to do is read the labels and taste anything processed and it is apparent someone has gotten carried away.

      I have become far more aware of salt content. I still use it very sparingly and have gone to Kosher salt a few years back. Once you get away from salt your food takes on a whole new flavour...

      Hugs from Alberta

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 

      6 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      I think I'm a salt snob. I don't like the average table salt, but usually go for the gourmet salts but in moderation. And I admit, I'm addicted to it and strangely enough, I don't suffer from high blood pressure. Actually, it's usually low.

      Great information and very interesting. Voted up and shared. :)

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      This is so very useful. The information is invaluable and could help prevent someone from developing high blood pressure.

      Once you stop using much salt, most foods, especially fresh vegetables, taste better without it. Besides there are so many other herbs and spices to experiment with that add different flavors to our foods. Voted up.

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Fortunately, here in California, restaurants of certain size are required to list nutrient count in menus. Not all have sodium info, but that can be found on the restaurant website. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank-you dinkan, shai, and Ken for your valuable comments that add to this hub! Nice of you to take time to read and learn more about health.

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank-you everyone for your comments! The passion you all show for health is wonderful to read and also lets me know this is an important topic to write about. So glad many of you take consideration with the amount of salt you consume. Rfmoran, I hesitate to give a cause-and-effect answer but will say that salt affect blood pressure in negative ways, as my hub explains (given the research I did to write it). Hope that helps you.

    • KenWu profile image


      6 years ago from Malaysia

      Informative hub there. I like salt especially during my fast food lunch. But it is time for me to cut it.

    • shai77 profile image


      6 years ago

      Great article, well researched and such necessary information. It's amazing how much salt sneaks into so much of our diets without even knowing it. Thanks for this great hub-- VU & Useful.

    • dinkan53 profile image


      6 years ago from India

      My friends used to say that the processed foods are so good in taste than those cooked in home. The common denominator in these favorites and many other processed foods is salt. Salt is atherwise known as "WHITE DEATH". So this hub is a nice message for those salt lovers that it is time to limit the intake of salt. Vote and shared.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      6 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Very useful info here Christy, one we all must be aware about. Salt consumption has to more rigidly monitored as we are getting increasingly dependent on processed or fast foods.

      voted up and useful. Sharing this on G+1.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      6 years ago

      Useful hub. I have to watch my salt and it is amazing how much salt is in everything we find at the stores. It is so hard to find good things and restaurants are terrible about salt.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      6 years ago from Western NC

      Great information here. I your analysis is awesome and yes, I definitely try to avoid having too much salt in my diet. :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Huh. I never would have guessed that sodium retention would be linked to race. I wonder if other studies were done comparing other people groups like male/female or even age differences.

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran - The Write Stuff 

      6 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Well researched and well written hub Christy. Question. Does high sodium intake cause HBP or just exacerbate it in those who already have it?

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 

      6 years ago from Minnesota

      very interesting article. I've never suffered from high blood pressure but I can see how that can change later in life, so I do like to get it checked and make sure that I watch my sodium intake. Its amazing how much salt gets added to pre-packaged foods....

    • meloncauli profile image


      6 years ago from UK

      Great article! I have to watch how much salt I eat because of chronic kidney disease. It's tougher than you imagine and really means eating mostly fresh foods, nothing in tins or packets. Since I had to reduce my salt intake, I have found that salt is in so much of what we consume...scarily so!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Many years ago when I was pregnant with my first child I was told to watch my salt intake. I stopped using salt and never started again....that's not to say I didn't eat salty food however! As with anything else, too much of a good thing can kill you. Great hub Christy! Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Most of the salt one gets is really in prepared foods. Just read labels ...I try to make all of our meals can free. If you use fresh products and add a little seasoned salt you will be doing okay. People always say "I don't use much salt"..but eat potato chips, prepared meals, etc. Great warning though and this is certainly valuable. GOing to pin it on my healthy foods. Voted UP.

    • missolive profile image

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Hi Christy, I hardly ever cook with salt. My family already knows they need to salt their own food. Plus, my mom and in-laws do add quite a bit of salt to their food. Aside from taste, I can almost 'feel' when I've had too much salt. My fingers begin to ache and swell, it does a number on my high blood pressure too. I've come a LONG way from the kid I once was, I used to literally eat salt by itself, ha! Thanks for the reminder.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Interesting article! I am not heavy (weigh 117 @ 5' tall). However, I feel horrible when I eat salt and bloat. Thanks for the info!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Do you have any idea how much I love salt? Are you trying to make me miserable? LOL I know, I know.....I have never had high blood pressure, but daddy didn't raise no fool. I have greatly lowered my salt intake because quite frankly, I can't keep being lucky for much longer.

      Great information Christy!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      Great article Christy. I watch my sodium intake on a regular basis and have switched to using herbs to flavor food. I am do feel much better. This is an important big of information for others to know and to take heed in following. Voted up and sharing.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      6 years ago from New York, New York

      Thanks for sharing this and I knew about too much salt and kidney disorders from my grandfather who had kidney issues the last year of his life. I am not sure if many people do know this fact so a great share definitely. Have of course voted up and shared all over!!

    • ChristyWrites profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      That's good flash, I want you to be healthy!

      Hawaiin you, I am glad I have helped you learn more about keeping yourself healthy. Absolutely, restaurants are happy to oblige with your requests. The customer is always right :)

    • flashmakeit profile image


      6 years ago from usa

      I never did like a lot of salt!

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      6 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Hi, Christy!

      Now I have a standard (1500 mg) by which to keep my salt intake in check. Another thing I learned from your hub is that I can actually ask a waiter to ask the cook not to put salt in the dishes I order. I never knew! Thanks for sharing!


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