Staying fit and healthy is an important goal for most people, but this is easier said than done for some.If you are struggling with staying in shape and achieving your weight loss goals, a common food item might be the culprit. Salt is hidden in many of the things we eat, especially in processed foods, and many people don’t realize how much they’re consuming. Read on to learn more about how salt affects your body, and how you can remedy this common problem.
How Does Salt Affect Your Body?
If you eat at restaurants often, or consume packaged snacks or meals, there’s a good chance you’re getting more than the 2,300 mg of sodium that nutritionists say should be the maximum amount you consume in a day. There is strong evidence that increased salt intake has an adverse effect on cardiovascular health, but why is that the case? High blood pressure (hypertension) is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Salt makes your body retain water, and the excess water in your body will raise your blood pressure. The more salt you eat, the more water your body holds onto, and the higher your blood pressure will be. High blood pressure can eventually lead to damage to your heart, kidneys, and even your brain, and it increases your risk of stroke as well.
In addition, when your body holds more water, you’ll weigh more and end up feeling bloated. Reducing your salt intake will keep your body from gaining water weight. Also, many people turn to calorie-laden beverages to quench their thirst. These beverages are consumed in addition to a regular diet, and simply add empty calories – sometimes hundreds – to your daily intake. A hundred extra calories a day from juice, soda, or sports drinks can lead to a few extra unwanted pounds over the course of a year.
Table Salt vs Himalayan Salt
Himalayan salt has been gaining some serious buzz from nutritionists lately, but how does it differ from regular table salt? Himalayan salt, also known as pink rock salt because of its color, is mined in Pakistani salt mines. The salt’s pink color comes from iron oxide in the mountains. People are starting to discover that it may have many health benefits, like reducing migraines, helping your body with absorbing nutrients, and preventing muscle cramps. This is because Himalayan salt is loaded with dozens of additional minerals that are healthy to our bodies in trace amounts.
Table salt, on the other hand, has been refined and stripped of essential nutrients, and may even have additives (to prevent the salt from clumping). Because table salt doesn’t have other minerals in it, using it in excess can lead to a pH imbalance or an electrolyte imbalance, while Himalayan salt has all the essential nutrients needed to keep us in balance. Though our bodies do need sodium in moderation, table salt is a poor choice, as it doesn’t have any of the elements that make Himalayan salt so healthy.
Himalayan salt is hand-mined, and doesn’t contain any additives or chemicals. You can add Himalayan salt to any recipe that calls for added salt, and use it to season your every day cooking. While salt is an important part of enhancing a dish’s flavor, using it in excess is never a good idea. Use only as much as is necessary.
Want to Cut Your Salt Consumption?
Of course, avoiding salt all together is a challenge, and a tiny bit of salt is needed for good health, but it’s so easy to overdo it. Keep an eye on your salt intake to see if you’re consuming more than the recommended amount. If you are, it’s a good idea to try to cut back on your consumption, but how can you do that without sacrificing flavor? Many people are so used to consuming lots of salt that a diet without it will seem bland and flavorless, but not to worry.
In addition to replacing your table salt with Himalayan salt, here are a few other tricks to cut back on your salt intake:
- Use unsalted butter – recipes that call for butter can always be made with unsalted butter. That way you can control the exact amount of salt that goes into your recipes.
- Spice things up – many herbs and spices are extremely good for you, and can add tons of flavor to a dish without increasing the sodium count. And the best part is that the options are practically endless. Browse the spice rack at your local grocery store and grab a few new once. You’re bound to find a new favorite.
- Be careful when eating out at restaurants or fast food places – many chain restaurants have nutrition facts available for their dishes, so check up on the sodium before you order. Pick lower sodium options from the menu, and ask for side dishes like fries without any salt added. Skip out or cut back on dressings when ordering a salad, because many of these have more salt than you might think.
- Snack on healthy choices – choose fruit or veggies when you’re craving a snack. And if you’re set on something salty, lightly salted nuts can satisfy your craving. In addition, you can find some of your favorites, like chips and pretzels, in lower sodium versions, if you find it really hard to ditch your snacking habit. But remember, these snacks are high in calories, so if you can forego them altogether, go for it!
Reducing your sodium intake is a great tip for reaching weight loss goals and improving your overall health. Most people find that taking it slowly is helpful in the beginning, while their bodies and taste buds adjust to consuming less salt. Remember, there are great alternatives out there to just dumping on the table salt. Check your grocery store for a healthier option like Himalayan salt or delicious fresh or dried herbs. Improving your health is a lifelong goal, and cutting back on salt can be a great step to take to improve your heart health as well.