Updated: Mar 9
There appears to be a link between high salt intake and high blood pressure in some people. If there is too much salt in the diet, your body tends to retain too much water, the volume of blood increases and this raises your blood pressure.
High blood pressure is linked with a higher risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke. As people get older, a small increase in salt intake seems to have a greater effect on blood pressure than it does in younger people. Reducing the salt intake over several weeks can reduce blood pressure.
A small amount of salt is essential for a healthy body, we have receptors on our tongues that detect salt – alongside the ones that detect sugar – and many people like the taste of salty things. Our taste buds get used to the salty taste, but it is possible to retrain the tastebuds to prefer a less salty palette, by gradually reducing added salt intake.
The chemical name for salt is sodium chloride. You may see ‘sodium’ on some packaging, rather than ‘salt’. You can convert sodium values to salt values by multiplying by 2.5; for example, 0.5 g of sodium is 1.25 g of salt.
Another substance similar to sodium is potassium. Studies have shown that potassium has the opposite effect on blood pressure to sodium: the higher the potassium intake, the lower the blood pressure. In 2013, the World Health Organization issued the first guidelines on potassium intake. Adults should consume more than 4 g of potassium a day.
The best sources of potassium are fruit, particularly bananas, and vegetables. Celtic Salt and Sea Salt are the best mineral sources, you'll find them in health food stores.