Salt in small amounts is necessary for health but too much can be harmful, particularly for those who already have high blood pressure.
A person's total daily salt intake should be under 2,400mg (slightly more than 1 tsp). Most people eat around 10gm of salt per day; it would benefit anyone to halve this amount. There is no need to cook different meals for one member of a household: everybody can benefit from reducing their salt intake.
Sodium is the major electrolyte that maintains normal fluid outside the cells. Too much sodium can contribute to edema and high blood pressure; too little sodium can cause low blood pressure and dizziness.
Potassium is the major electrolyte inside of cells. Low potassium can cause muscle weakness and irritability, constipation, depression and heart problems and is potentially dangerous.
August 25th, 2011: A study published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging has found that elderly people who have salt-rich diets and exercise little suffer quicker mental decline. Just over a teaspoon (7.7gm) of salt a day can dull the mind and raise the risk of Alzheimer's, the study suggests.
The team from the University of Toronto tracked salt consumption and physical activity of 1,262 healthy men and women aged between 67 and 84 over a three-year period. They also assessed the mental health of the participants at the start of the study and once a year for the duration.
The good news is that sedentary older adults showed no cognitive decline over the three years if they had low sodium intake.
Processed food often has salt added as a flavor enhancer to encourage product sales. Significantly reducing processed food consumption is always a good idea. The general rule is that any food in a package has had salt added. Look at the labels on the food that you eat. If the sodium content per 100gm is greater than 0.2gm, the food is high in salt.
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