And it comes with a host of health benefits. For starters, the sodium present in salt, when mixed with water, can reduce signs of a heart stroke or a sun stroke. It cools the internal organs down, which generally occurs when you’re under the hot sun for a long duration.
It’s not surprising that you don’t know much about the health benefits of salt. Its familiar taste and purpose in recipes overshadows why you need to add salt in your diet, in the first place. But that’s going to change now. With the help of this article, you can make sure you’re getting the most of your salt consumption. You will know be aware of how much quantity of salt, on a daily basis, is good for your health and why.
1. Dietary Salt Can Fight Against Invading Microbes
A recent study suggests that the intake of dietary salt intake in good amounts can defend the immune system against invading microbes. Contrary to popular belief, a salt diet isn’t harmful for cardiovascular health and blood pressure. Unless you consume significantly high amounts of salt in your daily diet.
Invading microbes also act as skin-infecting parasites which promote infections and inflammation. This can be put under control with a high sodium diet. After digestion, salt collects under the skin layer and triggers a positive immune response. This is helpful to defend against infectious skin diseases, ageing, and other prominent factors. (1,2)
Key Takeaway: Invading microbes are what cause different kinds of diseases in humans. An infection is detected in the body when there is a count difference between invading pathogens and the host. In short, our immune system is well-equipped to defend against such microbes, but without proper nutrient supply, the natural defense of the body diminishes.
2. Salt Intake Positively Impacts Heart Health
Consuming a high amount of salt, from fried food, fast food, and other meals, can raise blood pressure and risk of heart disease. According to WHO, a daily consumption of not more than 2,300 mg of sodium is considered healthy and safe. (3)
On the other hand, a reduced dietary salt intake has no effect on improved heart health. Which concludes that a dietary salt intake, in small quantities, can improve cardiovascular health. (4)
Another study on the effects of a reduce salt intake come to conclusive results on the improvement of blood pressure and heart disease. In fact, there are a weak association between improved cardiovascular function and reduced salt consumption. This study focused on over 3923 cardiovascular disease patients. (5)
Patients with hypothermia are prone to episodes of heart attack which can cause a significant amount of heart damage. A Swedish research suggests that salt mixed with cold water can unclog blood vessels to prevent a heart attack. This not only protects the blood vessels from rupturing, but it protects the heart muscle by cooling it down. (6)
Key Takeaway: Multiple studies have shown how a high-salt diet can impact heart health in a negative way. But there has been no conclusive research on the disadvantages of consuming a small amount of salt on a day-to-day basis.
3. Salt Is A Natural Anti-Depressant
A study conducted on rats indicates that a healthy salt diet in everyday meals can potentially reduce anxiety. It acts as a natural anti-depressant, multiple studies conclude based on practical evidence.
There is a clear reason why your mind craves salt in the form of fried, spicy, and junk food. There is biological and psychological evidence which tells us exactly why such diets are so appetizing and irresistible to us.
Even so, a high-salt intake is bad for your health. It’s important to consume salt under recommended levels, that is not more than 6g per day for adults and 2g per day for children. However, your body needs some amounts of salt for normal immune and biological function. (7)
A recent study links dietary salt intake with depression, anxiety, and stress. The study, conducted on rat, found that reduced dietary sodium intake can elevate levels of anxiety, depression, and acute stress. (8)
Key Takeaway: So a significant amount of sodium in the form of dietary salt is important for our body’s physiological function. (9)
4. Salt Is Important For Muscular Development
In fact, such evidences dictate that sodium is vital for our survival. It is important for the normal development of the bones, tissues, and muscles. Dietary sodium, when consumed in small amounts, triggers a positive metabolic reaction in the body which leads to increased muscle mass.
A study conducted on rats conclude this factor very efficiently. Sodium restriction in new-born rats decreased the size of their brains and muscular development. (10)
These effects are far more conclusive and reliable than previous findings. So balancing a salt diet intake for your body can help in muscle loss and increase muscular flexibility and strength, in the long run. (11)
Key Takeaway: There is far-reaching evidence that shows why a reduced sodium diet is incompatible with preventing all kinds of diseases. This includes muscle loss, metabolic syndromes, and autoimmune disease.
5. Daily Salt Intake Balances Body pH Levels
When we consume enough salt, it also helps pass urine which is alkaline. The body also passed out salt along with the urine, which gets rid of acidic fluid or edema fluid. By drinking more alkaline-rich food, provided by salt, you can restrict bacterial formation and reduce acidic fluids in the cells.
People with extreme acidic levels in the body often experience increased heart rate, water retention, and metabolic inflammation. Consider purchasing sea salt as a healthier alternative to table salt to increase your body’s alkaline content.
It helps in stabilizing irregular heartbeats and promotes cell metabolism. The misconception that a salt diet can cause high blood pressure is what restricts most people from consuming salt water. But recent studies have far-reaching evidence that proves the way salt consumption regulates cell metabolism by balancing body PH levels. (12)
Key Takeaway: Salt helps water reach into the interior structure of all our cells. A balanced salt diet can get inside the cell to provide nourishment which is vital to maintain our bodies PH balance. A steady PH balance gets rid of all the toxins from our body. This is a significant step for cell metabolism.
6. A Balanced Sodium Intake Promotes Bone Health
A recent study looked at more than 7,000 post-menopausal women and concluded that a low-salt diet is a good indicator of bone strength. It improves bone mineral density and helps prevent the development of osteoporosis in older women. (13)
Weaker bones are directly associated with menopause and ageing. That is when the bone density minerals are reabsorbed more aggressively than they are formed for better mobility. A limited intake of 2,400 mg per day is the ideal recommended value for postmenopausal women. (14)
Key Takeaway: Current sodium consumption recommendations are aimed at not only cardiovascular health. But also bone health. A regular salt intake is good for preventing bone loss and bone damage in older adults.
7. Salt Induces Sleep
Sleep is incredibly essential for children as well as adults. It helps the body fight diseases, keeps your immune system stronger, and it keeps your mind active.
One of the things you can do, according to science, to improve the quality of your sleep is eat enough salt. Lack of sufficient levels of sodium in the body can lead to high blood pressure which impairs the quality of your sleep.
Consuming salt-based diets, in moderation, can decrease stressful activity and lower blood pressure. If you are prone to salt sensitivity, lowering your salt intake is essential. Complete salt avoidance can put you at a higher risk of heart disease and even diabetes.
Key Takeaway: Dealing with sleep problems is common to many of you. This can also be because of sodium deficiency which raises blood pressure. Raised blood pressure is what keeps you tossing and turning all night. So increasing your salt intake throughout the day, based on the recommended values, to induce sleep in important.
8. An Increase In Salt Diet Can Cure Nerve Pain
Research shows that salt can treat all kinds of pain including arthritis pain, autonomic neuropathy pain, and nerve pain. A combination of salt and water reduces the intensity of nerve pain associated with electrolyte imbalance.
Autonomic neuropathy is a combination of symptoms that affects your nervous system. People with nerve disorders, diabetes, spinal cord injuries, or multiple sclerosis are known to have this condition.
One of the effective treatments for reversing nerve damage and pain cause by these factors in salt supplementation. By increasing your salt intake, you can increase fluid volume in blood vessels and tissues. This is important for the regulation of blood flow to and from various parts of the body. (17)
Key Takeaway: The benefits of salt also include relief from nerve damage and nerve pain caused by autonomy neuropathy. It is a wise food choice to fight nerve sensitivity.
9. Salt Deficiency Can Cause Low Libido
Salt has impressive neurophysiological functions that impact a person’s sex drive. It’s a century-known fact that salt acts as an Aphrodite which induces sexual activity. But recent studies have shown that a high salt intake is associated with improved libido in adults.
When you consume salt throughout the day, it makes your thirsty which increases your water intake. And a long-established deficiency in sodium, present in salt, can result in water and salt retention. This slows down reproductive performance, based on studies. It also reduces fertility and is a common marker of many reproductive follicular cysts. (18)
So salt is necessary for the proper electrolyte balance in adults which impacts reproductive as well as physiological balance.
Key Takeaway: Research suggests that salt can help improve libido and boost reproductive and fertility status in adults. It also defends against electrolyte imbalance in the body.
5 Delicious Recipes with Salt
You can add salt to a number of delicious and nutritious recipes. You can bake in cookies, slow cook chicken, or make delicious spices-infused burgers. Salt makes a great garnishing ingredient along with pepper. And those who dislike the sour taste of salt will find comfort in using it as seasoning ingredient in curries and rice dishes.
Try some of these delicious salt recipes below to incorporate dietary salt in your diet more often.
1. Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
The salted caramel freshness of these cookie bars is the best tea-time snack for your coffee table.
1 cup of brown sugar
half cup of granulated sugar
1 cup of softened and unsalted butter
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of salt, kosher
2 and a half cups of flour, all-purpose
2 cups of chocolate chips
14 oz. of sweetened milk
10 oz. of unwrapped soft caramels
1 tsp of sea salt
- Combine butter and sugars and blend with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Add the vanilla extract, eggs, baking soda, and salt. Blend well for a minute.
- Add flour at low speed to the mixture. And mix in the chocolate chips.
- Take a baking dish and coat it with cooking spray. Line half of the batter on the baking dish.
- Meanwhile, in a pot, heat caramel and condensed milk. Let the caramel melt over medium-low heat and pour the melted mixture on top of the cookie dough.
- Pour the remaining cookie batter on top of the caramel. Bake in a 350 degrees preheated oven for 25 minutes.
- Garnish the baked cookie bars with sea salt and set aside. Store in an airtight container. You can serve these cookie bars for up to 3 days.
2. Spicy Tandoori Chicken Burgers
Indian recipes are incomplete without the touch of salt. Try Indian the modern way with these delicious and flavorful Tandoori Chicken Burgers.
1 and a half lbs. of chicken breast
4 fresh green onions
3 tbsp of ginger, grated
2 tbsp of lime juice
1 tbsp of paprika
2 tsp of cumin
half tsp of cardamom, grounded
1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
Cucumber, cilantro, and sliced red onions to taste
Salt and pepper
1 can of Greek yogurt
1 tbsp of mint leaves, chopped
2 tsp of cumin
1 tbsp of lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
- Marinade the chicken breasts with cumin, cardamom, cayenne pepper, and paprika. Mix well and divide into 4 equal parts.
- In a small bowl, add yogurt, mint leaves, cumin, lime juice, and salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Heat a grill over medium heat and place the chicken patties on top. Grill for 3 minutes on each side. After the chicken is cooked, set aside and cook the Naan bread on the grill for a few minutes.
- Divide the Naan bread into 4 parts. Coat the Naan with yogurt mix, cucumbers, red onions, and cilantro. Place the tandoor chicken patties on the bread and serve hot.
3. Greek Chicken With Lemon Rice
A good week night meal for the family, this recipe will soon become a family tradition during the holidays.
5 whole chicken thighs
2 lemon zest
4 tbsp lime juice
4 minced garlic cloves
half tsp of salt
1 and a half tbsp separated olive oil
1 diced small onion
1 cup of long-grain rice
1 and a half cup of chicken stock
3/4 cup of water
3/4 tsp of salt
1 tbsp of oregano, dried
black pepper to taste
- Marinade chicken pieces with lemon zest, lime juice, garlic, and salt. Contain all ingredients in a ziplock bag and set aside for 20 minutes.
- In a skillet, heat half tbsp of oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken to the skillet and cook evenly, until both sides are golden brown. Remove from heat.
- Clean off the chicken fat from the skillet using a paper towel and add 1 tbsp of oil. Throw in the onions and stir for a few minutes. Add rice, chicken stock, water, salt, oregano, black pepper. Cook until the liquid comes to a boil. Place the golden brown chicken pieces on top. Cover with a lid and cook for a few seconds.
- Bake the prepared dish in a 350 degrees preheated oven for 35 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 10 minutes. Set aside to cool down for 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh lemon zest and cilantro.
4. Tenderized Carnitas
Something Mexican for the table? The Tenderized Carnitas aren’t too spicy to taste or too over-whelming to cook. They’re just perfect!
1 boneless pork roast, cut into 3-inch pieces
1 cup chicken stock
1 diced white onion
4 minced garlic cloves
1 tbsp of chipotle powder
2 tsp of cumin
1 tsp of black pepper
1 tsp of chili powder
1 and a half tsp of salt
- Combine pork, chicken stock, white onion, garlic chipotle powder, cumin, pepper, chili powder, and salt in a slow cooker. Cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours.
- Towards the end of the cooking time, prepare 2 baking sheets and preheat your broiler. With the help of a fork, shred the pork meat and transfer it to the baking sheets. Make sure you spread the juices evenly on the baking sheets lined with aluminum foil.
- Slide a single baking sheet under the broiler. Let it broil for 5 minutes. Remove the baking sheet and add 1/4 ladle of pork juice from the slow cooker and toss well. Repeat this process once more until the pork is juicy and crispy. Broil the other baking sheet in the same way.
- Garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro. Eat with tacos, Naan bread, or rice.
5. Chicken Risoni
Feeling inspired? Try the Chicken Risoni recipe and pair it down with delicious feta cheese and lemon zest. It’s the perfect chicken recipe for meat-lovers!
1 pound of boneless chicken thighs
2 minced garlic cloves
1 tbsp of oregano
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 lemon zest
half lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp of olive oil
2 minced garlic cloves
1 diced onion
2 diced zucchinis
1 sliced bell pepper
1 tbsp of dried oregano
2 and a half cups of chicken broth/stock
14 ounces of tomatoes, crushed
2 tbsp of paste of tomato
1 cup risoni
1 punnet tomatoes, cherry
salt and pepper to taste
Oregano and feta cheese for garnishing
- Combine chicken, garlic, oregano, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Marinade for at least 20 minutes.
- In a skillet, heat one tbsp of olive oil and cook the marinade chicken pieces until both sides turn golden brown. Remove the chicken pieces from heat.
- Add onions, garlic, and 1 tbsp of olive in the heated skillet. Saute with zucchini, bell peppers, chicken broth, oregano, and tomatoes. Combine with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Add risoni and chicken pieces. Let it cook for a few minutes and add cherry tomatoes.
- Bake the dish in a preheated oven for 20 minutes. Garnish with lemon juice and zest. Add oregano and feta cheese if needed. Serve immediately.
Wrapping It Up
By the looks of it, salt affects almost all bodily functions. And it’s so easy to consume with other foods that cooking it won’t alter your daily routine at all. Because salt contains sodium as its primary nutrient, it is good for lowering blood pressure, boosting immunity, and improving eyesight.
If you are someone who eats a balanced meal on a daily basis, you need salt to keep you company. Incorporating salt in your diet is completely safe and healthy. And contrary to popular belief, you do not need to detox by ditching salt completely as that could also have health-deteriorating effects.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.