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We have become versed by a substantial body of evidence that the overconsumption of sodium can lead to a long list of health woes. But is there a limit to how far low we should go when it comes to sodium intake? A 2013 study suggests there is, in fact, a fine line between preventing certain diseases and inciting new ones by our sodium intake. Sodium is an essential mineral to human existence for a variety of reasons, and has an undeniable importance in the diet. But the benefits of sodium come down to its quality and how well you moderate.

According to a recent study, significantly reducing sodium intake may not be the most rational approach to health. The American Heart Association and other health organizations suggest cutting sodium consumption to no more than 1,500 milligrams per day. And there is substantial evidence backing this – with the average American adult consuming an average of some 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day, reducing sodium intake can prevent high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and cardiac-related mortality.

However, consuming as low as 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day can pose new risk factors, including blood lipids an insulin resistance, ultimately increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

In a study conducted in 2008, Italian patients suffering from severe congestive heart failure were treated with either 2,760 or 1,840 milligrams of sodium per day with an otherwise similar diet. Those consuming the least amount of sodium had three-times the number of hospital readmissions than those consuming the most salt – 30 and 9, respectively – and more than double the number of deaths – 15 to 6, respectively. Three years later, in 2011, a study found that among 28,800 subjects, those consuming more than 7,000 milligrams per day were at an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, congestive heart failure, and death. However, this same trend was also witnessed among those consuming less than 3,000 milligrams of sodium per day.

As these research studies reveal, salt consumption should neither be shunned nor abused. Sodium is essential to life and the body’s sodium-water ration is critical to metabolism. Human blood itself is 0.9% sodium. For thousands of years, salt has been regarded across many cultures as a panacea – a healing modality to most ailments.

Instead of fearing it, embrace sodium consumption, making sure to choose high-quality sources over table salt. Despite having the same nutritional value, sea salt and table salt are not the same. Sea salt is made by way of the evaporation of ocean or lakewater. Table salt is mined from underground salt deposits and is more heavily processed to eliminate minerals, and is combined with additives to prevent clumping. Keep the beneficial trace minerals intact and reap the benefits.  

Photo Credit: SoraZG