5 facts about salt that will change your attitude to it

What is salt?
From the course of school chemistry, we all remember that the so—called «table salt» is sodium chloride, NaCl. That is, a simple compound of just two atoms: one atom of sodium metal (Na) and one atom of chlorine gas (Cl). Neither sodium nor chlorine in nature exist in pure form — they are too unstable. But together they gave an incredibly strong connection. Just imagine — if you dry up the world ocean, a desert of salt will appear in its place. And this very NaCl is almost the only natural mineral that is completely absorbed by the human body.

Salt cannot be unambiguously attributed to either good or evil. She kills, she gives life. It is everywhere, and we need it no less than air. We have collected 5 facts proving that salt is not just one of the food additives.

1. Salt is part of all our body fluids and we have nothing to replace it with
Scientists admit that the role of salt in the life of the human body has not yet been fully studied, and in many ways it is still underestimated. One thing is clear: salt is present in absolutely all the fluids of our body: blood, lymph, intercellular fluid, sweat, tears, even gastric juice — everything contains salt. At the same time, we ourselves are not able to synthesize either it or its components, therefore we must receive it with food, as well as other essential nutrients (for example, omega-3 fats).

With an abundant loss of fluid by the body, the need for salt increases. This also applies to those cases when you sweat profusely (on hot days), and when there are problems accompanied by loose stools and / or vomiting. A well-known fact: our ancestors escaped from severe dehydration during dysentery (a disease accompanied by diarrhea) with the help of pickles (and other salty foods). Salt retained fluid inside the body and served as a supplier of two important micro- and macroelements that play a significant role in regulating the water balance. Thus, it was possible to save the lives of many people before more civilized medical methods of treating such problems were invented.

By the way
Ringer’s solution, used everywhere for intravenous infusion with severe dehydration, as well as with non—critical blood loss, contains sodium chloride, that is, salt in the amount of 8.6 g per 1 liter (for comparison, potassium chloride and calcium chloride there are only 0.3 g / l).

2. Salt is a source of chlorine, which we need
Chlorine is an extremely poisonous gas, which in nature is present only in various compounds. And only one of them we can eat is salt. Why is chlorine so important to us? The fact that it participates in the regulation of osmotic pressure in the blood, lymph, intracellular fluid. Without going into the description of biochemical processes, let’s just say that when osmotic pressure is violated, cells die (and after that their owner also dies). Chlorine plays an important role in water-salt metabolism, controls the formation of edema and thereby normalizes blood pressure. The same chlorine is involved in the first roles in the acid-base balance, and plays the first fiddle in the formation of hydrochloric acid (HCl) — the main component of gastric juice. And finally, chlorine stimulates the activity of amylase, an enzyme that we need for the breakdown and assimilation of carbohydrates.

Can we get chlorine not from salt, but from somewhere else? Practically not. The daily requirement for chlorine is 5-7 g. At the same time, the most chlorine-rich foods, such as sea fish and seafood, contain no more than 170 mg per 100 g of raw product. There is also calcined cottage cheese and milk, which are enriched with calcium in the form of potassium chloride (calcium chloride), but even there chlorine is no more than 120 mg per 100 g of the product. Imagine how much you will have to eat seafood and drink calcined milk to satisfy your daily need for chlorine. So the salt — NaCl – remains the most accessible and easily digestible source of chlorine.

3. Salt is a source of sodium that we can control
Sodium is one of the most important chemical elements that ensures the vital activity of all cells of our body. It regulates the water balance, maintains an optimal volume of circulating blood, participates in the work of muscles, is directly involved in the transmission of nerve impulses. Controlling sodium intake is vital for people prone to high blood pressure.

The daily requirement of an adult for sodium is 4-6 g . So much sodium is contained in 10-15 g of table salt. Of course, sodium can also be found in other foods, such as tomatoes, peas, buckwheat or oats, apricots or black currants. But even in the most sodium-rich products, its content does not exceed 40 mg per 100 g.

Of course, all this is true only if you eat mainly homemade food, where you yourself control the amount of salt added to the food. Because otherwise you have no idea how much salt you can eat a day.

5 facts about salt that will change your attitude to it

4. They stuff us with salt without our knowledge
The properties of salt as a preservative played a cruel joke. In those distant times, when there were no refrigerators, no sterilization, no vacuum packaging, people stored food by immersing them in salt. Salt prevented the development of putrefactive bacteria in raw foods, such as meat and fish, for example. Salt, though it changed the taste, but it did not let the vegetables disappear. So people have learned not only to store food for a long time, but also to eat it not just salty, but very salty. Now it is difficult to imagine a modern table without salted fish, pickles, sauerkraut, dried meat. In addition, salt has become one of the basic ingredients in the preparation of cheeses and oils.

The property of salt to increase appetite and enhance the odors of food, making it tastier, began to be abused by manufacturers of finished products. Sausages, including sausages and sausages, cheeses, bread (especially rye) contain significant doses of salt. For example, sausages can contain up to 3.7 g of salt per 100 g of product, butter — up to 2 g, and rye bread — up to 1.7 g in a piece weighing 100 g. As a percentage, 1 g of salt contains approximately 0.4 g of sodium and 0.6 g of chlorine. So count how much you will get both by eating a couple of sausages, eating them with a piece of black bread and butter. As they say, it will not seem enough…

Where is the salt hiding:
Here is a list of the most popular ready-made products that many of us use in everyday life, without thinking about the fact that they have already been generously salted for us. It is noteworthy that manufacturers almost never write the amount of salt per 100 g of the product, but only indicate its presence with a modest inscription «salt»:

Grained cottage cheese (cottage cheese in grains with cream)

Ready-made breakfasts (including children’s)

Granola bars


Butter (except that which explicitly states «unsalted»)

Canned vegetables used for side dishes and salads (corn, peas, etc.)

Soy sauce

All meat products: sausages, sausages, sausages, etc.

All minced meat

Canned fish, including in its own juice

Dietary bread, crackers, biscuits (except those where «without salt» is indicated in a prominent place)

Bread, all bakery products, muffins

This is the main problem of salt: due to the fact that it is too actively added to a wide variety of finished products, we have lost the ability to control its consumption. Moreover, an overdose of sodium in this case is much more dangerous than an excess of chlorine, oddly enough.

5. It is not salt that is «to blame» for hypertension, but lifestyle
Excess sodium is excreted through the kidneys, in the urine. If a person consumes too much sodium, the kidneys do not have time to dispose of it. This leads to fluid stagnation, an increase in the volume of circulating blood and, as a result, to an increase in pressure on the walls of blood vessels (hypertension). In this situation, the risk of stroke and heart attack increases dramatically. Both diseases are considered the main causes of mortality in adults who have not reached the extreme old age.

So, you still have to give up salt? Not really. The problem is not the salt, but our eating habits. It is proved that the problem of hypertension is a complex problem. Studies conducted under the auspices of the DASH movement (A dietary approach to the problem of preventing hypertension) clearly prove that in order to combat high blood pressure, it is important, first of all, to reduce weight (in most hypertensive patients it is higher than normal) and stop drinking alcoholic beverages. In addition, it is necessary to control the intake of sodium from various food sources, primarily from fast food and semi—finished products. In other words, when returning to a healthy lifestyle, even potential hypertensive patients do not need to eat completely unsalted homemade food.

How much salt can we eat per day?
According to experts, Europeans who lived 100-200 years ago consumed up to 70 g of salt per day. Against this background, modern recommendations of nutritionists look more than ascetic. Nowadays, the norm of salt intake for a healthy adult is 4-6 g per day. With hypertension, doctors still recommend reducing salt intake to 1-2 g. These recommendations take into account the fact that people cannot completely abandon ready-made products such as bread, butter, cheese, cottage cheese, and they already have salt in them.

It is a well—known fact that the more salty you eat, the more thirsty you are, and the more often you have to run to the toilet. This effect has been well studied by marketers for a long time and has been implemented in bars and beer restaurants. Have you noticed that in most establishments salted nuts or other salty beer snacks are served for free? Of course: after them, you will definitely order another glass, and not just one. I’m thirsty…

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