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Why Too Much Salt is Bad For You? | Affinity Health

A pinch of salt? Affinity Health, leading providers of affordable medical cover, consider the dietary pros and cons of sodium in our meals.


We all love adding a sprinkle of salt to our food for a reason. Just a pinch can transform bland dishes into tasty ones. But at what cost to our health?


Salt is a naturally occurring compound used to season meals. People also use salt as a food preservative and can help limit the growth of bacteria. However, it has developed a negative image over the last few decades and has been connected to illnesses such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and even stomach cancer. In fact, the most recent Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day.


“Keeping in mind that salt is only about 40% sodium (and the remaining 60% chloride), that equates to one teaspoon of salt,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health. “However, it would almost be impossible to consume this little, still meet your energy needs, and get the recommended intake of other important nutrients.”

What Are the Health Pros & Cons of Salt?

Sodium keeps nerves functioning and keeps blood volume and pressure in check. Chloride, on the other hand, is the blood’s second most abundant electrolyte. Electrolytes are electrically charged atoms found in biological fluids that are necessary for everything from nerve impulses to fluid equilibrium.


Low chloride levels can cause respiratory acidosis, a condition in which carbon dioxide builds up in the blood and causes the blood to become more acidic, so it’s important that the body gets enough chloride for optimal health.


Reduced-salt diets have been associated with higher blood cholesterol and triglycerides levels in several studies. Hyponatremia, or low blood sodium, can occur due to a low-salt diet.


While some people are unaffected by a high-salt diet, others may have elevated blood pressure or bloating due to consuming more sodium. Those who suffer these symptoms are said to be “salt-sensitive”, and they may need to watch their sodium intake more closely than others.


Water retention, a brief rise in blood pressure, excessive thirst, and, in severe situations, hypernatremia can all result from consuming substantial amounts of salt over a brief period.


Increased salt consumption has also been related to an increased risk of stomach cancer, according to some studies. This could be because it promotes the growth of Helicobacter pylori, a type of bacteria linked to an increased risk of stomach cancer.


Other studies also show that too much salt can cause high blood pressure, which results in extra strain on the heart and is one of the risk factors for heart disease. Nearly 8 in 10 South Africans over the age of 55 years have high blood pressure, and they could all benefit from a low salt diet.

Learn More: Do You Eat Too Much Salt?

How to Ensure You Consume the Right Amount Of Salt

The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urge people to limit their salt intake. They recommend that the average person reduce their salt intake by a third.


You might believe that the simplest approach to reduce sodium intake is to throw out the saltshaker, but this isn’t always the case. Processed foods, which account for a whopping 77 percent of salt in the usual diet, are the primary source of sodium in the diet.

Affinity Health Provides The Follow Tips To Limit Unhealthy Salty Foods 
  • Always read food labels before you buy to help you choose less salty options.
  • Buy fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Instead of salt, experiment with different spices for extra flavour, such as coriander, black pepper, nutmeg, parsley, cumin, cilantro, ginger, rosemary, marjoram, thyme, tarragon, garlic or onion powder, bay leaf, oregano, dry mustard, or dill.
  • Reduce your restaurant and fast-food intake as these foods often contain copious amounts of salt.
  • Avoid store-bought condiments as most are sky-high in sodium. Look for a reduced- or lower-sodium version or make your own condiments without the added salt.
  • Choose low-sodium canned veggies and soups
  • While you can continue to season your food with salt to add taste, do so sparingly.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance, offering you a range of options at affordable rates including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, your budget, and your lifestyle. Our range of healthcare products protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service at all times. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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