Mmm...salt. Who doesn't love a salted baked potato, doughy pretzel or omelet now and then? In moderation, salt suits an overall healthy diet. Most Americans, however, go well beyond the recommended maximum of 2,400 milligrams per day, says the Mayo Clinic, leading to heightened risks for numerous complications. Learning more about the downside of salty food may inspire you to choose fresh, naturally flavored fare most often.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure isn't just for older folks anymore. Nearly one in five young adults had excessive levels in 2011, according to the National Institutes of Health. A high-sodium diet is a major contributor to blood pressure increases. Adding salt to your food makes way for sodium overload, because just one teaspoon contains 2,325 milligrams -- 25 milligrams more than your daily recommended maximum. The higher your blood pressure, the tougher it is for your heart to move blood through your arteries, increasing your risk for blood clots, heart attack, stroke and heart disease.
Adding salt to your food may make the bloating that you normally experience only before your period an ongoing problem. Sodium helps maintain water balance in your body, and your kidney excretes any excess through your urine. If you consume too much sodium, your kidneys' work load becomes hefty, reducing their ability to complete the task. This results in retained fluid in your abdominal area. Salting food before menstruation can worsen bloating and discomfort.
Even if you consume plenty of calcium-rich foods, a salt-rich diet increases your risk for osteoporosis, according to Colorado State University Extension. Osteoporosis is characterized by weak, brittle bones. For each teaspoon of salt, your body excretes considerable amounts of calcium through urine. Although osteoporosis is less common before menopause, it can affect young women. Poor bone strength early on increases your risk for osteoporosis and fractures later in life.
Although kidney stones are more common in men, they do affect women. They often strike people in their 20s and 30s, according to the National Kidney Foundation. A salty diet can trigger kidney stones, because excess sodium causes minerals to accumulate and form the hard crystals in your urinary tract. If you have other risk factors, such as family history of kidney stones or eat a meat-rich diet, salting your food further raises your risk.
August McLaughlin is a health and sexuality writer, podcast host and author of “Girl Boner: The Good Girl’s Guide to Sexual Empowerment” (Amberjack Publishing, 2018). Her articles appear in DAME Magazine, Cosmopolitan.com, the Huffington Post and more, and she loves connecting with readers through her blog and social media. augustmclaughlin.com