While everyone requires a certain amount of salt to stay healthy, it's easy for people to eat far more salt than they need due to a diet of fast food, processed snacks and produce that has been salted as a preservative or for flavor. High salt intake has been linked to serious health issues, so it's important to limit your consumption of salty food.
Table salt is a form of sodium, an element which plays a vital role in keeping your blood circulating at the right pressure and volume and which also assists in the proper functioning of your muscles. Salt occurs naturally in low levels in many healthy foods; sodium in various forms is also added to to a wide range of processed food to enhance its flavor or prolong its shelf life.
Excessive salt intake has been linked to high blood pressure, which is in turn a contributor to heart disease and stroke. In addition, high sodium can make you more prone to kidney stones, osteoporosis and even stomach cancer. The University of Maryland Medical Center also warns of links to cirrhosis.
Common high-sodium foods include cured or processed meats such as sausage, salami, bacon and ham. But there are also less obvious sources, such as pickled produce, cheese, vegetable juice and many condiments. In addition, canned goods usually contain salt or other forms of sodium to keep them looking fresh.
With so much salty convenience food on the market, it can be all too easy to lose track of how much sodium you're consuming. The US Department of Agriculture recommends a daily intake for adults of 2,300 milligrams of sodium -- equal to 1 teaspoon of table salt – going down to 1,500 mg per day for individuals diagnosed with high blood pressure. To limit your intake, make recipes with garlic, pepper and herbs rather than salt, opt for fresh produce over processed food, and read food labels to see how much salt per serving an item contains – a healthy level being 100 mg per serving or less.