How Much Salt is Healthy?

Salt has been used as a flavor enhancer and preservative for thousands of years and has long been one of the most valuable commodities. Through the trade in salt, some cities like Lüneburg developed into rich and influential metropolises. From there, the “white gold” was transported to other regions on salt roads and sold.

Salt – an essential substance

Salt – i.e. sodium chloride (NaCl) – is not only of great importance for preserving food, but is also a vital substance for humans. Table salt is the primary source of sodium and chloride, which are important for fluid balance, the nervous system, and the regulation of blood pressure. Sodium chloride protects the cells from drying out and is essential for the transmission of signals in the nerve cells. No cell in our body could exist without salt – and yet too much of it is unhealthy.

How many salts Should You Consume Daily?

According to the German Society for Nutrition (DGE), an adult should consume a maximum of six grams of salt per day, which corresponds to about one teaspoon. The World Health Organization (WHO) even recommends just five grams per day, while some nutrition experts advocate a maximum of three grams of salt per day.

However, around 80 percent of all men and almost 70 percent of women exceed the daily recommended amount of six grams of salt by the DGE. The average salt consumption in Germany is ten grams for men and a little more than eight grams for women.

Too much salt increases blood pressure

For several years, scientists and doctors have been critical of high salt consumption and point to a connection between salt consumption and high blood pressure. High blood pressure is one of the most important risk factors for the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases. Some people are at increased risk of high blood pressure if they eat a lot of salt. If you succeed in limiting salt consumption to less than six grams per day, blood pressure can be reduced. How sensitive someone reacts to salt varies greatly from person to person.

Finished products often contain too much salt

While many European countries have passed laws to reduce salt consumption among the population, manufacturers in Germany only have to provide voluntary nutritional information on their products. Often only the sodium content is given. Then your own computing power is required to calculate the actual salt content. Salt content is obtained by multiplying sodium content by 2.54.

A tedious job that hardly any consumer undertakes. Especially since hidden salts in food quickly wipe out the bill. So if you want or have to watch your own salt consumption, it’s difficult. The North Rhine-Westphalia consumer advice center offers a salt calculator: Simply enter the sodium content printed on the packaging and the consumer will find out how many grams of salt a product contains.

Finished products in particular often contain far too much salt. Even cooking with lots of herbs instead of salt protects against unknowingly consuming too much salt.

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