12 Reasons Why Salt is GOOD for you!

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12 (scientifically supported) reasons why salt is good for you!

Salt is good for you?!

Perhaps you’ve heard some of the buzz in the health blog world about salt. Perhaps you are asking yourself, salt is good for me? Yep, it is! The idea is contrary to the pretty blatant lies told to us by the American Heart Association… and thank goodness, because salt makes food taste amazing.

There is no need to suffer through bland, unsalted meals in the sake of health. Here are 12 reasons why salt is good for you:

1. The premise that salt leads to hypertension has never been scientifically supported. On the contrary, studies show that a reduced-sodium diet leads to health issues. In one study, subjects consuming less than 2300 mg. (the recommended daily allowance) of sodium per day had significantly higher mortality rates (meaning a higher risk of death) than the subjects consuming 2300 mg. or more sodium per day.

2. Salt aids blood sugar control by improving insulin sensitivity. A low-salt diet increases insulin resistance and even moderate dietary salt restriction is shown to cause systemic insulin resistance (study #1 and #2).

Learn why unrefined salt is good for you3. Salt is a natural antihistamine. A pinch of salt sprinkled on the tongue may help improve an allergic reaction or an asthma attack (source).

4. Your body needs salt to maintain the proper stomach pH. Stomach acid is hydrochloric acid and salt is sodium chloride. Proper stomach acid levels are absolutely foundational for good digestion, but 90% of Americans have low stomach acid. Learn how to correct low stomach acid naturally.

5. Salt lowers adrenaline spikes. Adrenaline is a necessary and important stress hormone, but it is just that… a stress hormone. When adrenaline patterns are out of rhythm, it takes a toll on the body (source).

6. Salt improves sleep quality. It boasts anti-stress and anti-excitatory qualities due to its suppression of stress hormones and it increasing of the metabolic rate. This may explain why many people report that a low sodium diet interferes with sleep and an adequate amount of dietary salt improves sleep quality.

Interestingly, if you often wake up with your heart pounding between 2 and 4 AM, it is probably because of an adrenaline spike. The most important change is to reduce both physical and mental stress, as well as eating a healthy diet. But one immediate fix to help you go back to sleep is just a pinch of salt and sugar (or salt and honey, if you prefer) sprinkled on the tongue to calm the adrenaline peak (read more about it in this book!).

7. Adequate salt consumption encourages a healthy weight and fast metabolism. First, one study showed that increased salt intake leads to an increase in the elimination of cortisol and lower blood cortisol levels. Imbalanced or excess cortisol means weight gain and a stagnant metabolism.

8. Salt supports thyroid function by reducing circulating stress hormones. For example, cortisol is anti-thyroid, but salt combats excess cortisol.

9. Salt supports hyperosmolarity of the extracellular fluid. Slight hyperosmolarity–more solutes in the extracellular fluid than in the cell–actually increases the cell’s metabolic rate (source). That means salt can speed up your metabolism! On the other hand, when the extracellular fluid is hypo-osmotic in relation to the cell, it impairs the breakdown of proteins and glucose and thereby lowers the cell’s metabolism.

10. Increased sodium intake also correlates with increased thermogenesis–heat production by the body (the study is here).

11. Adequate salt supports balanced hormones. Hormone and nutrition researcher Ray Peat explains the correlation between the salt-regulating hormone aldosterone and mineral loss:

One of the things that happen when there isn’t enough sodium in the diet is that more aldosterone is synthesized. Aldosterone causes less sodium to be lost in the urine and sweat, but it achieves that at the expense of the increased loss of potassium, magnesium, and probably calcium… Magnesium deficiency is extremely common, but a little extra salt in the diet makes it easier to retain the magnesium in our foods.

12. Salt makes food taste good. Salt adds a satiety factor to food and makes meals enjoyable. Adequate salt content of food makes it easier to enjoy quality instead of quantity, thereby encouraging mindful eating and weight management.

What salt is best?

Salt is good for you if it is the right type. With that said, regular processed salt is better than no salt, that’s for sure.  But the better option is unrefined salt, which is rich in trace minerals and free of additives.

I had the opportunity to speak with a salt expert at Real Salt, and I asked him how the popular types of unrefined salt compare. We discussed Real Salt, Himalayan Salt and Celtic Sea Salt. As it turns out, these salts share an extremely similar mineral profile. While some producers of himalayan salt boast that their salt contains 84 trace minerals, that is a false marketing claim. These three types of unrefined salts all contain about 60 important trace minerals, although the amounts of minerals vary slightly from salt to salt.

Oh, this is obvious but I should say it anyways… don’t rely on high-sodium processed food for salt! That is not a good source of sodium. Make food from scratch and salt it yourself.

How much salt should I eat?

Food should be salted freely and to taste. When the metabolism is slow and the thyroid is not optimally functioning, it may be beneficial to consume extra salt whenever possible. This could include salting all beverages and using liberal salt when cooking and baking.

If you have kidney disease or hypertension, it is a good idea to consult with a medical practitioner before increasing salt intake.

Most importantly, listen to your body. Let your salt craving and desire for seasoning dictate how much salt to consume.

Have you been on a low-sodium diet? How does salt fit into your life now?












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Comments

  1. says

    Have you seen any studies on salt and kidney disease (I noted the disclaimer at the end of your post). I have chronic kidney disease (focal segmental glomerulosclerosis), and it’s never been explained why a low-salt diet is recommended.

    I don’t see my nephrologist again until the end of August…would love to go in with a little research under my belt before asking his opinion.

    • says

      No, I am not very familiar with kidney disease. I’ve heard from some holistic health practitioners (not just mainstream health practitioners) that high salt consumption can be contraindicated with kidney disease, but I don’t know if this is always the case. I would suggest speaking with a holistic medical practitioner about your situation.

  2. eema.gray says

    I’ve long suspected, in regards to point 1, that the reason low sodium diets “work” is that they bring sodium into balance with potassium. It would be better if heart doctors advised more whole produce and less processed/convenience food while explaining how people dealing with hypertension often eat too much sodium compared to the amount of potassium and the diet recommendations will increase the amount of potassium they consume while reducing sodium to healthful levels. But that’s far more complicated to explain than “consume no more than 1800 mg salt per day” and you can’t be sure that patients will A)understand and B) follow through. A diet low or lacking in processed foods and high in real foods is naturally going to contain a better balance of sodium to potassium than a diet primarily made up of processed foods and convenience foods because Mother Nature generally does a pretty good job of balancing minerals and nutrients in edible foodstuffs.

    • says

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I agree that the consumption of processed foods throws our mineral and electrolyte balance way out of whack. When listen to Mother Nature and our own cravings for salt, then we are going to be supporting our health.

    • Chantel says

      Amen to this! I agree about the sodium/potassium issue. From what I have read, the proper balance between the two is really the key. And of course the key to everything is to eat REAL food! Love your blog Lauren!

  3. says

    I do not limit salt from my diet, however I am allergic to Iodine and Salt Water Fish and seafood. I use table salt and feel that sea salt would not be good for me to use. I have never asked a doctor about this so I do not know if I am correct about sea salt.

    • Rose says

      Um….there’s usually Iodine IN table salt…so if that’s what you’ve been using, then it’s probably okay. And sea salt is probably fine even if you’re allergic to fish, but you should get tested first.

      • Sue says

        Iodine is added to salt to prevent iodine deficiency, which causes goiter (among other things). Natural salt doesn’t contain much if any iodine (trace minerals are present depending on the minerals in the environment from which the salt was taken). There is a lot of salt available to purchase which has no iodine added, including sea salt.

  4. says

    Salt and animal fat always gets blamed for all sort of diseases and getting fat, media it is so misleading that if we don’t do research ourselves we are trapped into their lies. Thanks for bringing light to the subject.

  5. Jan J. says

    I have been using RealSalt for a long time but I read Dr. Mercola the other day saying iodine is very important. Now I am wondering if I need to supplement that since I no longer, or rarely at a restaurant, use salt with iodine? I have hypertension and they told me to completely cut out salt, but I am sorry – food tastes BLECH without salt. It is tasteless. I try to eat well with real foods and RealSalt and hope for the best, so this is all good to hear!

  6. Anonymous says

    Although the science behind this is true and I appreciate you taking the time to report it, this post is extremely misleading. Unfortunately, the majority of people this information applies to are those that lack access to iodized salt in their diet. It is to my knowledge that this population also lacks access to computers so this information will never reach them. The people that this article IS reaching, however, are most likely those that are already consuming an excess of sodium which is, indeed, quite unhealthy. They, however, are going to read this article you posted and think that this is an indication that the amount of salt they are consuming is the correct amount- or heaven forbid not enough. This saddens me to read because I think about the people who are under-educated on the physiology of nutrition. They will not know that although what you are reporting is true, they will nearly never have to worry about this information. What they need to worry about is the information reporting on the dangers of excess sodium intake. I would also love to hear how you think the American Heart Association is “blatantly lying”.

    • says

      I don’t really understand your comment. First, you mention iodized salt. Since iodized salt is usually the uber-processed, refined salt, I do not recommend it. Instead, I suggest the natural sea salts listed here along with an iodine supplement (iodine supplementation is a topic for another post). So are you thinking that because most people in the Western world get enough salt because they eat a ton of processed food? I agree and, as I stated in this post, processed food is NOT a good source of salt. Processed foods are inflammatory and contain refined, stripped salt. This post is beneficial for those who have been making a conscious effort to reduce their sodium intake in the belief that this is a healthy practice. As for the lies of the AHD, I discussed that in the post. ADH tells us it is healthy to reduce sodium intake and that this supports heart health… but it does not.

      • Darrell41 says

        ”ADH tells us it is healthy to reduce sodium intake and that this supports heart health… but it does not.”

        it looks like salt is the adh’s and mainstream media’s little fall guy for bad health….blaming salt, but not the kfc or mcdonald’s…frankly misleading…as john mcdougal pointed out in his video ‘salt as a scapegoat’

        luckily the internet provides us with info to make our own judgements….something newspapers won’t.

    • Dave says

      You know what would be awesome? If people like you would stop assuming and telling people like me… what and how we’ll think. You couldn’t be more wrong in your ridiculous analysis.

      BTW – google is one click away… I’m assuming you know how to search the interwebs. Go look up all of the documentation and studies that contradict the garbage put by the American Heart Association and the rest of mainstreet greed bases medicine

      • DREW says

        I kind of agree with Anonymous…Everything should be consumed in moderation. Obviously going crazy with salt, processed or raw, is going to be just as bad as going crazy with (both processed and raw) sugar. Just because something is more “natural” doesn’t make it healthy especially if its being eaten in copious amounts. Arsenic is a pure, naturally occurring element, but I wouldn’t recommend sprinkling it all over your food. Plus, consuming a large amount of sodium can increase your tolerance to it and you may have to use more the next time you need it to get the same taste.

    • says

      Dr Brownstein is a world renown authority on thyroid issues. He advocates sea salt, not table salt Read: https://www.drbrownstein.com/Salt-Your-Way-to-Health-p/salt.htm
      He states that salt and iodine are the most misunderstood ingredients.
      https://www.drbrownstein.com/Iodine-Why-You-Need-It-p/iodine.htm
      this book explains how none of us get enough iodine – especially if we only use iodized salt, because it is not absorbed very well. Celtic sea salt with iodine supplementation is the healthiest way to go.

    • Ina says

      A friend had started a low salt diet because her BP was going up and she hoped to avoid medications. I sent her the studies showing the culprit in hypertension is often a lack of healthy, unrefined salt, and gave her some unrefined salt to try.
      Within a week her BP was normal, end of problem. She was convinced.

      • Darrell41 says

        ‘I sent her the studies showing the culprit in hypertension is often a lack of healthy, unrefined salt, and gave her some unrefined salt to try.’

        salt, regardless of its source, is not a factor at all in causing hypertension…which is caused by diets heavy in meat and dairy products and saturated fats. you won’t find too many people in india or asia suffering from hypertension…or obesity, heart disease, and so on.

  7. Junata says

    Thank you Lauren for a great site with excellent healthy information. I’m impressed that such a young person like yourself has so much great knowledge. But nothing like a health issue to make you delve into it more to realize that what the media and doctors tell us isn’t always so true. It is so good to find sites on here like yours that are like minded. keep up the good work. I have a Thermomix, so I make my own iodized healthy salt. I grind a good rock salt and a sheet of seaweed together in my thermomix and I use that in all my cooking.

  8. Megan says

    Love this article! My aldosterone level is very low so I take salt tablets multiple times a day. (And salt everything, of course!) Glad the bad stigma associated with salt is starting to turn around.

  9. Cathy Brashler says

    I was wondering if you have any tips on calculating about how much salt you consume. I don’t often eat processed foods that have a label, so most of my meals I would have no way of figuring that out. I like salt and do add it for flavor, but not all the time. I do have a thyroid issue and am wondering if increasing my salt may help.

  10. amy says

    salt lowers adrenaline spikes

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=salt-boosts-bp-but-via-adrenalin-12-01-11

    peer reviewed research points in the opposite direction

    salt is an antihistamine

    I have not yet found any non-commercial website supporting this info. I’ve never heard about anyone reporting reduced allergic reactions by consuming salt…Dr Batman is recommending salt and water for pretty much any ailment…really?!?

    and more…

  11. Nick says

    Well i believe that salt is a natural antiseptic and i always enjoy my salt regardless of what twaddle the government tells us.
    It just seems to me that there has been an increase in cancer and other ugly diseases since people have been told to eat less salt

  12. jayna says

    Oh my God I LOVE this! I have very hbp and i love salt. My bp is due to extreme work stresses. I started the dash diet yet again and i was soooo drained. I ate some soup and voila¡ I feel great! Awesome article thank you!

  13. Liz Edgaro says

    Lauren! I have been struggling with the restless nights and am excited to try some sugar/salt sleepy mix! I have Celtic Sea salt in the house, but no organic sugar. Would I be able to mix the salt with some raw honey and use that past instead?

    Thanks for your time!

  14. Anonymous says

    Feel free to delete my comment from before! (and this one after) I see where you are coming from and thank you for clarifying!

  15. Arielle says

    This might be a dumb question but is any kind of sea salt or kosher salt from the grocery store okay? Or do they get refined too? It finally dawned on me not too long ago that I don’t consume enough salt because I’m constantly feeling dehydrated despite drinking more water than anyone I know. I want to start added salt back into my diet, but in a healthy way. Thanks for the post!

    • Ina says

      If the salt is white it’s over processed. While sea salt is probably better than the usual table salt, the coloured salts mentioned in the article are the best.

  16. says

    While i love this article in general, you lost me at processed salt is better than no salt; this is false. Processed salt is virtually void of minerals and is swimming with chemicals. To say processed salt is better than no salt is like saying conventional beef is better than no beef.

  17. Sara says

    I claim to be no expert on a lot of medical issues, but I can tell you about my situation. I have a condition that is controlled by increased sodium and fluid intake. I am under the care of a Cardiologist and an Electrophysiologist who diagnosed me and successfully treated me with a high sodium diet. I went from a pretty average life, health wise, to not being able to stand for longer than a few minutes at a time. Months later, finding out my body needed sodium–that I had always been told to avoid– was shocking. But when you can’t stand, you are willing to try about anything. I can only tell you that this worked for me–while under the care of licensed and exceptional medical staff. I really just wish when I went to salt what I eat, people would stop judging me. Every person is different and not all rules apply evenly. My condition is known as neurocardiogenic syncope or neurally mediated hypotension. In severe cases it’s sometimes misdiagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome. Severe sufferers may have a more dibilitating form known as post arterial orthostatic tachycardia syndrome.

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