Salt

Article by  Dominika Zielińska

SODIUM (NA)

This metallic element is important for life. It is the main component of table salt, spread throughout the body in the fluid surrounding the cells. It plays a very important role in maintaining the osmotic pressure in the tissues, allowing the flow of oxygen and nutrients to and from the cells.

It stimulates kidney function and keeps calcium in a dissolved state, preventing the formation of kidney stones. It also stimulates the secretion of sweat and digestive juices, supporting digestion. Prevents heart attacks, improves mood in people with low blood pressure, who are often fatigued. Together with potassium, it participates in neurotransmission and maintains the acid-base balance in the body.

Excess sodium causes an increase in blood pressure, narrowing of the blood vessels and retention of water in the body, which leads to hypertensive disease and edema. People who suffer from high blood pressure, narrowing of blood vessels, heart disease and people who are overweight are advised to avoid salt and use a low-sodium diet.

You can replace the salt with potassium-based substitutes or use herbs and spices like celery, basil, caraway, mustard and parsley.

Sodium deficiency is rare, but it can occur as a result of excessive sweating. The most sodium is found in such natural sources as table salt, kelp, seaweed, meat, beets, carrots, beetroot stalks and nuts.

Note: Excess sodium should be balanced by increasing the amount of potassium, because sodium causes excretion of potassium in the urine.

THE REDUCTION OF SALT CONTENT IN DIET

The salt contained in the food comes from two main sources, it is added to the dish during cooking (or we are adding the dish already at the table) or it is present in the purchased finished products. To reduce the intake of salt for health benefits, it is worth using the following suggestions:

  • If you want to reduce salt intake by 30%, do not add it to the dishes while cooking and remove the salt shaker from the table.
  • In order to reduce the salt intake by 60%, do not add it to the dishes while cooking, remove the salt shaker from the table and do not used ready-made salted food products during preparation (containing the so-called added salt)
  • Try to replace the salt with herbs and spices.

IS THE SEA SALES BETTER THAN ORDINARY SALT?

Salt sold in stores can be referred to as, for example, table salt, rock salt, sea salt. The sodium content in each salt variant is identical. Because sodium is the element whose excessive consumption harms health, the advantages or health benefit ​​of any salt variety over another is irrelevant.

PRODUCTS CONTAINING ADDED SALT

All of the products listed below can contain a lot of salt, which was added during preparation, so it is best to avoid them. If possible, study the composition of the product on the label to make sure it is not adhered to.

  • Bacon, ham, salted beef, burgers, pâtés, canned meat
  • Fish fingers, crustaceans, smoked fish, canned fish
  • „Instant” dishes
  • Some breakfast cereals containing a lot of fiber, referred to as “healthy”
  • Prepared soups and sauces in bags or cans
  • Broth, mushroom cubes, etc.
  • Butter (except unsalted), margarine, cheese
  • Puffs, salted nuts, salty sticks and other types of snacks

SALT REPLACEMENTS

There is evidence that salt adversely affects blood pressure increases the risk of serious diseases such as heart attack or stroke. However, there are several ways to replace table salt with its healthier counterparts or substitutes.

Unpurified sea salt

Sea salt contains a lot of minerals and trace elements that can offset its potentially harmful effects. You can buy it in health food stores. However, like regular salt, it should be used in moderation.

Low-sodium, high-potassium salt

The main ingredient of this salt is potassium chloride, not sodium. It is now widely used for the benefit of health. Some studies have shown that potassium helps in lowering blood pressure.

Dried chopped vegetables or herbs

There are salt substitutes consisting of dried vegetables and spice plants or only herbal spices. They can be used as natural spices, reducing or even eliminating the need for salting dishes.

Thanks to the use of aromatic plants instead of salt, we can get the perfect taste of dishes and improve your health. 

Dominika Zielińska – dietician/nutritionist

She obtained her master’s degree of Dietetics and bachelor’s studies of Artistic education in the field of musical art at the University of Rzeszów in Poland.

During her studies, she participated in numerous courses and trainings, among others in: anorexia and bulimia, celiac disease and primary lactose intolerance, population health –  tacking health inequalities at regional level, fat burning and the role of hormones, oncological nutrition, infant nutrition and diet for the elderly.

During her studies she took n active part in the activities of the Scientific Circle of Dieticians at the University of Rzeszów and the organization of and participation in the  1st, 2nd, 3rdNational Scientific Conference of Students and PhD Students “Medical Aspects of Human Nutrition”.

In 2016, she published in W.Kruk, M. Marć: Public health, part 4: Threats to public health and the challenges of health education. Chapter 5 (Dominika Zielińska) Influence of information and advertising provided in the mass media on the spontaneous use of drugs in the case of ailments not requiring medical intervention.
She is a highly creative individual, very communicative and with interpersonal skills, eager to learn new skills.
Her hobbies are nutrition and healthy food, music and singing, but also scientific activity.
Email: dominique.z@o2.pl

About Dr Antonella Grima


Dr. Antonella Grima M.D. M.Sc. Pg.Dip. is the founder of the Health and Nutrition Centre in Luqa, Malta. She is a Medical Doctor specialised in Public Health as well as a Registered Nutritionist. Read More >

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