How much salt does our body really need?

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Too much salt

(By Shenrina Badri) Do you know exactly how much of salt our bodies require and how much you are taking in on a daily basis?

Sodium is one of the two minerals found in salt. Salt consists of 40% sodium.

Why does our body require sodium?

Our body requires sodium to help in the transmission of nerve impulses as well as to help keep body fluids balanced. In addition, salt is also needed to help keep our muscles functioning well.

How much do we need daily?

According to Jessica Bacon, a registered dietician at the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa, 1,25 grams of sodium daily is sufficient for our body to meet its requirements.

She says that we should try to limit our salt intake to about five grams per day – that’s one teaspoon. Note that this should include any salt that is added to meals as well as the salt in processed- and fast-foods.

Research reflects that most South Africans tend to consume between eight and 11 grams of salt daily of which more than 50% is found in foods such as bread, processed meats, cereals, hard margarine, convenience foods, soup powders as well as vegetable and meat extracts.

Why is excess salt harmful?

Excess salt has been linked to stomach cancer and obesity and may worsen the symptoms of asthma. It also causes high blood pressure, which could possibly lead to a stroke or heart disease.

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