The Salty Truth
Salt is closely related to many aspects of human history. Its uses are vast ranging from being used to preserve and flavor food to being used to promote fertility in animals (1,2). Salt was the primary form of currency used in the Middle Ages, so much so that even the word “salary” is derived from the Latin word “salarium”, meaning “salt money”.
Excessive salt (sodium chloride) intake contributes to increased risk of noncommunicable diseases like hypertension which in turn is a major risk factor for stroke, other cardiovascular diseases and kidney disease (3). Thirty percent of the cases of hypertension and related diseases, as well as 1.65 million annual deaths from cardiovascular events, are attributed by high dietary salt (4). Studies have also shown dietary salt intake is positively associated with the risk of gastric cancer (5)
HOW MUCH SALT IS TOO MUCH SALT?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that dietary sodium intake be less than 2000mg/day, based on strong to moderate evidence of the impact of sodium on blood pressure and cardiovascular disease (6). This includes the salt already in foods, salt added during cooking, and salt added at the table.
Making sense of the numbers
- The chemical name for salt is sodium chloride.
- Salt consists of 40% of sodium and 60% of chloride.
- 1 teaspoon of salt weighs around 5 grams and is equivalent to 2 grams(2000mg) of sodium.