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How Much Salt You Should Actually Eat

What You Need To Know

  • A low salt diet can be harmful.
  • You may be missing out on potassium.
  • Don’t fear the salt – especially if you’re on a low-carb diet.
  • The kind of salt you eat matters.

Salt gets a bad rap.

The American Heart Association (AHA) says to limit your daily intake of salt to a little over half a teaspoon. More than that (they claim) puts you at risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.[1]

That’s not even enough to season a grass-fed steak, much less add flavor to a whole day’s worth of meals. Bummer.

There are a lot of reasons not to trust the AHA. So, before you resign yourself to bland food, let’s take a closer look at salt. There’s a strong argument that the world’s most popular seasoning doesn’t deserve the bashing it gets – in fact, you might want to eat more of it.

A measuring teaspoon of sea salt (vibrant orange) on a blue background.

The downsides to a low-salt diet

Plenty of studies have found that eating less sodium leads to modestly lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.[2][3] But several others found restricting your sodium actually increased risk of heart disease, and a meta-analysis concluded that cutting sodium offered no benefits to your health.[4][5] On top of that, there are a few unrelated issues with a low-salt diet:

  • Hypertension. According to a summary of 23 studies printed in the American Journal of Hypertension, restricting sodium to less than 2,500 milligrams per day not only causes hormone dysregulation, but it also makes your plasma renin activity go up, which increases your risk of heart attack dramatically.
  • Insulin resistance. A few different studies have found that a low-salt diet triggers a 15-20% increase in insulin resistance in healthy volunteers.[6][7][8] Insulin resistance contributes to fat gain and, in the long run, type-2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
  • Fatigue and sleep quality. One study found that curbing salt screws with your sympathetic nervous system, tanking sleep quality and causing exhaustion and faster muscle fatigue.[9] Participants also had increased blood pressure.

Clearly, the relationship between low salt and health isn’t as black-and-white as the government makes it out to be. No surprise; their recommendations tend to be grossly outdated and corrupted by shady lobbyists and corporations.[10]

So what’s really going on with sodium?

Is sodium the problem…or is it potassium?

Potassium and sodium work closely together; when you get plenty of...

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