"Salt" comes in many types, but the main health complaints are about "sodium chloride" or "table salt". The alleged issue with salt is that is causes high blood pressure which puts undue strain on your heart and blood vessels, leading to kidney damage, heart disease and heart attacks.
Sodium levels in your body can be affected by many factors including intake of potassium and calcium (deficiencies of these can cause higher sodium levels), water intake, amount of exercise undertaken, alcohol intake, and other factors.
Blood pressure on the other hand can be affected by many factors also, including stress, nutrient intake (and deficiencies), weight gain, genetics, age, metabolic hormones, blood sugar levels, and other causes.
Hence salt intake is only one of many possible causes of high sodium levels and blood pressure!
However, in many published studies high blood pressure isn't caused by salt, but salt may exacerbate pre-existing high blood pressure symptoms or heart issues, or in those with diabetes or kidney conditions. Over 80% of people with normal blood pressure do not show any signs of high blood pressure from increasing their salt intake. Even those with high blood pressure, 75% are not sensitive to salt! In fact, having very low sodium levels is likely to kill you much quicker than having higher sodium levels or even high blood pressure.
Other issues with "table salt" include that is also contain various fillers including MSG (a known neurotoxin), anti-caking chemicals, aluminium (another neurotoxin), and in "iodised salt", iodine, which is needed in the diet but can lead to excessive iodine causing thyroid problems. Table salt is added to many processed and packaged foods such as breads, cakes, biscuits, crackers, sauces, and many more foods as it can act as a preservative so the food can last longer.
The fact is that we NEED salt in our diets as our bodies use the components of salt - sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and over 60 or more other trace minerals. We need salt for all of our body functions, including for our brain and nervous system, bone health, pH balance, energy production, digestion and even needed for good heart and muscle activity! Table salt does not contain these additional minerals which are essential for good health, or which can negate the issues of just having just sodium and chloride.
Too little salt (or having deficiencies of the minerals in salt) can lead to insulin resistance, increased fat storage, diabetes, low energy, reduced libido, infertility, poor bone health, poor nervous system function and reduced muscle function including weakness and cramps.
Another major cause of heart disease (other than the disproven saturated fat and cholesterol myths) is actually a high intake of sugar and foods which break down into sugar. This causes inflammation of the blood vessels, insulin resistance, weight gain, diabetes, kidney damage, and high blood pressure and cholesterol levels - most of the symptoms being blamed on salt!
Which types of salt are good for you? Most unrefined sea salt is good, but I'd recommend either Celtic sea salt or Himalayan pink salt, because they contain so many other beneficial trace minerals!
Adding these good salts to food is a healthier option, however you shouldn't need to add salt to every meal. If you crave salty foods, there are other causes to this than just lacking salt - you may be deficient in some nutrients which the salt is providing in small amounts. If you are frequently craving salt, then you should see your friendly Naturopath (me!) to investigate which minerals you may be deficient in, and how to correct this with your diet or supplementation.
So don't worry about salt, providing you are having enough of the good stuff! However if you do have high blood pressure, I can help to identify the causes and improve your overall health!