I love blog requests, this came from a client last week:
  I’d like to know what you think about salt.  My husband says I shouldn’t put it in anything, even when the recipe calls for it.  I know that my body reacts negatively to it and that it is better to avoid it (and given the paucity of salt we eat, things, especially fast food, tend to taste overly salty).  But soy sauce on sushi, salt on edamame, and even on some scrambled eggs, tastes good.  What do you think?  Is a sprinkle a good thing or a bad thing?
First, I think whomever is making the recipe gets the final say on what goes in it. Just so you don’t think your husband is the only one with questionable salt habits, my husband salts everything before tasting it. So we don’t all “shake” the same but I’m getting off topic.
We do need some salt. It’s  particularly important for people, like yourself,  who bike and run outside in the heat. Salt or sodium is lost in sweat. The higher the temperature and humidity, the more sweat and the more sodium you lose. While I don’t think salt replacement during exercise is warranted for workouts or races under 90 minutes. I do think some salt does an athlete good.
While dangerous hyponatremia or low sodium is rare. Too little salt is as dangerous as too much. Salt is needed for muscle contractions (our heart is a muscle), salt moves nutrients and water into our cells and interestingly salt may be a mood food or mood mineral. Research from the University of Iowa showed rates deficient in sodium chloride (table salt) shy away from activities they normally enjoy.  I provided the link if you’d like to learn more about rat fun but let’s suffice it to say we’re very similar to rats.
The amount of salt we need isn’t all that much. The AI or “adequate intake” which differs slightly based on age is 1500 mg or about ¾ of a teaspoon of salt. The UL or “upper limit” is 2300mg and 2000mg is 1 teaspoon so this is a little over that. To put this into food context show how easy the AI is to hit:
  • 1 medium pickle has about 800 mg of sodum
  • 4 slices of smoked salmon have 500mg
  • canned beans have 500mg in ½ cup (rinsing reduces this number almost in half).
  • Sushi Roll (naked, sans soy) 500-1000mg per 6-piece roll.
As to what type of salt to use, there are a few I love. Himalayan Sea Salt is unrefined so it’s a more natural product in a more raw state and contains more minerals (84 different minerals) than processed table salt. I like the Himalania brand. I also used Kosher salt and received a gift of Sicilian Lemon Salt recently. Table salt contains iodine (can throw off taste) and can contain additives so look at your labels. The only ingredients should be salt.
So salt via soy sauce (unless you’re gluten free) or with edamame or eggs is absolutely fine.  You mentioned “reacting negatively” and I assume you were referring to bloat. Bloat may be telling you you over salted. Salt can be sneaky, here’s a list of some surprising salt sources. So don’t close the salt cellar just hide it from your husband.
Are you pro or anti salt? What type do you use? What are your favorite salty foods?


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