Salt: Don't Ban It Entirely

Salt is bad for blood pressure but good for brain development, researchers say

By Jeanie Lerche Davis
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario

Pass the salt: Who hears that anymore? Salt's been nearly banished, and rightly so. Too much salt affects blood pressure -- and not in a good way. But for some people, cutting back has a downside.

Take stock of the facts.

Too little salt -- iodized salt, that is -- is dangerous, too. It's the iodine in iodized salt that helps the body make thyroid hormone, which is critical to an infant's brain development.

A little salt is essential to good health. Healthy adults should consume salt and water to replace the amount lost daily through sweat and to achieve a diet that provides sufficient amounts of other essential nutrients.

The American Heart Association and NIH advise adults to get no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium daily. That's about 1 teaspoon of salt. Just think how salty your favorite snacks taste. Eat too many salty foods (even soft drinks have sodium), and you easily go overboard.

Truth About Iodized Salt

Is the salt in your kitchen salt iodized? Most people don't know. "Most people buy just whatever one their hand grabs... and until about five years ago, it didn't really matter," says Glen Maberly, MBBS, MD, an endocrinologist and professor of international health in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.