Life & Culture

Don't Go Too Hard On The Salt

Jan 03, 2022 ByAndrew Parker

Salt, is essential to lifeā€”it regulates blood volume and pressure, allows nerves to send electrical impulses, stimulates the secretion of hormones by the kidneys, helps muscles contract properly, enables stomach acid production that’s required for digesting food, and it contributes to saliva formation to keep the mouth moist. Plus, it makes all our favorite foods even tastier, from french fries to broccoli.

But some people think salt is responsible for many of our society’s ills, from high blood pressure to heart attacks and even strokes. They claim that if we eat less salt, those health problems will disappear.

Another study to support this belief came out two years ago in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showing that the less salt study participants ate, the lower their blood pressure was.

The title of this report is “Association of Dietary Sodium and Blood Pressure in Children,” and it reveals that children who consumed more than 2000 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day had higher average systolic blood pressures – the top number in a blood pressure reading – than those children who consumed less sodium.

Man seasoning meat

GettyImages/Hinterhaus Productions/DigitalVision

“These are surprising results to us,” said Dr. Michael Alderman at the time, clinical professor of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. “The findings are consistent with the other studies out there suggesting that salt intake is not as dangerous as some have believed.”

But Dr. Alderman says that parents, educators, and health care professionals need to keep a balanced view of the findings because “the results show an association between sodium intake and high blood pressure in children… not cause and effect.”

“Parents should reduce salt in their own diets,” he adds, “but they shouldn’t think that reducing salt will make their children perfectly healthy.”