Whenever we call Salt as a unhealthy food it is because of it’s Sodium content. Some Sodium is required by the body but excess Sodium leads to water retention – thus increase High Blood Pressure which ultimately leads to Heart Disease and Stroke (the largest Killer diseases). High BP is directly responsible for 29% of all Strokes and 24% of all Heart Attacks in India according to Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). High BP accounts for approximately 10.6% deaths in India.

Salt – how it leads to High Blood Pressure

Human body removes extra Salt through the kidneys. But if the Salt consumption is high the kidney cannot excrete all the Salt. As Salt attract water – the volume of the blood increases and this in turn increases the Blood Pressure. The walls of the Blood Vessels and Arteries react to this pressure and get thicker. The heart has to pump against this increased pressure – the muscles of the heart also becomes thicker and ultimately Heart Disease results.

Possible effects of Salt intake reduction

There are scientific studies which conclude that reducing the daily Salt intake to 5-6 grams per day decreases the mean population Blood Pressure and the associated risk of cardiovascular events. It is estimated that reduction of 6 grams per day Salt intake can reduce Stroke by 24% and Coronary Heart Disease by 18%.

Types of salt:

1.) Table Salt or Refined Salt: contain about 97-99% Sodium Chloride. To make it free flowing Magnesium Carbonate or Sodium Alumino Silicate is added in many cases.
Sea Salt or Kosher Salt: also contain 40% Sodium by weight. But it also has Magnesium, Potassium and Calcium in small amounts.
3.) Rock Salt/Pink Rock Salt – called Sendha Namak: This is a kind of Rock Salt and has a pink tinge. This has less Sodium content and also contains other nutrients like Potassium, Copper and Calcium. This is a healthier variety of Salt.
Kala Namak or Himalayan Black Salt: It is a special type of Indian Volcanic Mineral Salt. It has a distinctive sulfurous smell. Traditionally Rock Salt is processed by chemicals which transform some of the sodium into pungent hydrogen sulfide and sodium sulfide. In these process ayurvedic herbs like Harad, Aamia, Bahera, Saji is added in the Rock Salt with Charcoal. This Salt is often used in Intestinal Diseases – like Constipation, Flatulence, Heartburn, Bloating, Indigestion, poor Eye Sight and Hysteria in Indian Traditional System. This Salt has less Sodium content. In India this Salt is extensively used in Chutneys, Curds, Pickles, Salads and Fruits. Sometimes it is used in cold drinks in summer times.
5.) Low Sodium Salts: These days a lot of Low Sodium Salts are available in the market. They mix Potassium Salt and reduce the Sodium. Many claim that the Sodium is 70% less than Common Salt.
6.)Iodized Salt: Iodine is a micro nutrient which is needed to make Thyroid Hormones in our body. Deficiency of Iodine thus leads to Goitre or Hypothyroidism – which is a common disease. In Children it leads to Cretinism. Thus many countries have made it compulsory to add Iodine in processed Salt – which has substantially reduced the incidence of Hypothyroidism. Usually Potassium or Sodium Iodide is added in the processed Salt.
7.) A Double Fortified Salt has Iron with Iodine and can be used in preventing Anemia which is very common in many countries. Folic Acid (Vitamin B9) can also be added in some cases.
8.) One tablespoon of Soya Sauce (15ml) has as much as 1000mg of Sodium – which is equivalent to 2.5 gram of Salt.
9.) Baking Soda: Sodium Bi Carbonate also has lots of Sodium. It is used in Bread and baked foods.

Steps to reduce Salt intake in the body:

1.) Do not sprinkle Salt on Salads, cut Fruits and Curd. Enjoy their natural taste.
While cooking try to reduce the addition of Salt gradually.
3.) Soya Sauce, Salad Dressings, Ketch up, Pickles and Papad has a lot of Salt/Sodium. Cut down their usage.
4.) Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Mono Sodium Glutamate (MSG) should be used less and less.
5.) Do not add Salt in dough of Chapati or Rice.
6.) Switch from Salted Snacks and Namkeens to Fruits and Salads.
7.) Avoid Salted Chips, Salted Biscuits, and Cheese and Salted Dairy Products.
8.) Eating Fruits and Vegetables has high Potassium which lessens the negative effects of Sodium.
9.) Take Steamed, Baked, Boiled, Grilled and Roasted foods which have less Sodium.
10.) Shift to Low Sodium Salt (LONA, Suffola Salt).
11.) Take extra amount of water – which helps to flush out extra Sodium from the body.

Hyponatremia (Low Blood levels of Sodium in the blood)

This is a rare but possible condition when the blood level of Sodium goes below 135 micro mol/liter. This may be caused by excessive reduction of Salt intake while managing Heart Failure or Congestive Cardiac Failure. It affects the brain adversely. Such patients may feel lethargic, sluggish. It may also lead to muscle twitches, headache, irritability, decline of cognitive senses, seizures, loss of consciousness and even coma. Such condition can be also caused by Diarrhea, Vomiting, Burns, Intestinal Obstruction, and Addison Disease. The treatment is usually supplying more Salt to the body orally or intravenously.