What is salt? From the school chemistry course, we all remember that the so-called “table salt” is sodium chloride, NaCl.
That is, a simple compound of only two atoms: one atom of sodium metal (Na) and one atom of chlorine gas (Cl). Neither sodium nor chlorine in nature does not exist in its pure form – they are too unstable. But together they gave an incredibly strong connection.
Just imagine – if you dry the world’s ocean, a desert of salt will appear in its place. And this very NaCl is almost the only natural mineral that is completely absorbed by the human body.
Salt can not be uniquely attributed to either good or evil. She kills, she gives life. It is everywhere, and we need it as much as air.
We have gathered 5 facts proving that salt is not just one of the food additives.
Scientists recognize that the role of salt in the life of the human body is not yet fully understood, and is largely underestimated. One thing is clear: salt is present in absolutely all the fluids of our body: blood, lymph, extracellular fluid, sweat, tears, even gastric juice – everything contains salt.
At the same time, we ourselves are not able to synthesize either it or its components, so we should receive it from food, like other essential nutrients (for example, omega-3 fats).
With abundant loss of fluid from the body, the need for salt increases. This also applies when you are sweating profusely (on hot days), and when problems arise, accompanied by loose stools and / or vomiting.
A well-known fact: our ancestors escaped from severe dehydration during dysentery (a disease accompanied by diarrhea) with the help of salted cucumbers (and other salty products). Salt retained fluid inside the body and served as a supplier of two important micro and macro elements that play a significant role in regulating water balance.
Thus, it was possible to save the lives of many people before more civilized medical methods of treating such problems were invented.
Chlorine is an extremely poisonous gas that is present in nature only in various compounds. And only one of them we can eat is salt. Why is chlorine so important to us?
The fact that he is involved in the regulation of osmotic pressure in the blood, lymph, intracellular fluid. Without going into the description of biochemical processes, let us say only that if osmotic pressure is violated, the cells die (and then the owner dies). Chlorine plays an important role in water-salt metabolism, controls the formation of edema, and thus normalizes blood pressure.
All the same chlorine is involved in the first roles in the acid-base balance, and plays the first violin in the formation of hydrochloric acid (HCl) – the main component of the gastric juice. And finally, chlorine stimulates the activity of amylase – an enzyme that we need for the breakdown and assimilation of carbohydrates.
Can we get chlorine not from salt, but from somewhere else? Hardly ever.
The daily requirement for chlorine is 5-7 g. At the same time, the richest in chlorine foods, such as sea fish and seafood, contain no more than 170 mg per 100 g of raw product. There are also calcined cottage cheese and milk, which are enriched with calcium in the form of potassium chloride (calcium chloride), but there is also chlorine – no more than 120 mg per 100 g of product.
Imagine how much you have to eat seafood and drink calcinated milk to satisfy your daily need for chlorine. So the most accessible and easily digestible source of chlorine is salt – NaCl.
Sodium is one of the most important chemical elements that ensures the vital activity of all cells of our body. It regulates water balance, maintains an optimal volume of circulating blood, takes part in the work of muscles, is directly involved in the transmission of nerve impulses.
Controlling sodium intake is vital for people prone to hypertension.
The daily need for an adult in sodium is 4-6 g. So much sodium is contained in 10-15 g of salt. Of course, sodium can be found in other products, such as tomatoes, peas, buckwheat or oats, apricots or black currants. But even in the richest sodium products, its content does not exceed 40 mg per 100 g.
Of course, all this is true only if you eat mostly homemade food, where you yourself control the amount of salt added to the food. Because otherwise you yourself can not imagine how much salt a day you can eat.
An evil joke was played by the properties of salt as a preservative. In those days when there were neither refrigerators, nor sterilization, nor vacuum packages, people kept the products, immersing them in salt. Salt prevented the development of putrefactive bacteria in raw foods, such as meat and fish, for example.
Although the salt changed its taste, it didn’t let the vegetables disappear. So people have learned not only to store food for a long time, but also … eat it not just salty, but very salty. It is already difficult to imagine a modern table without salted fish, pickles, sauerkraut, jerky.
In addition, salt has become one of the basic ingredients in the preparation of cheeses and oils.
The ability of salt to increase appetite and enhance the smells from food, making it tastier, manufacturers of finished products began to abuse. Sausages, including sausages and wieners, cheeses, bread (especially rye) contain significant doses of salt.
For example, sausages can contain up to 3.7 g of salt per 100 g of product, in butter – up to 2 g, and in rye bread – up to 1.7 g in a piece, weighing 100 g. As a percentage in 1 g of salt contains about 0.4 g of sodium and 0.6 g of chlorine. So consider how much you get and that, and the other, after eating a couple of sausages, eating them with a slice of black bread and butter. As they say, will not find it …
Where is the salt:
Here is a list of the most popular ready-made products that many of us use in everyday life, without thinking that they have already been generously salted for us. It is noteworthy that manufacturers almost never write the amount of salt per 100 g of product, but only indicate its presence with the modest inscription “salt”:
- Grain curd (curd beans with cream)
- Breakfast cereals (including children)
- Muesli Bars
- Oil (besides, on which “unsalted” is directly indicated)
- Canned vegetables used for side dishes and salads (corn, peas, etc.)
- Soy sauce
- All meat products: sausages, sausages, sausages, etc.
- All stuffing
- Canned fish, incl. in its own juice
- Dietary breads, crackers, biscuits (except for those where “without salt” is indicated in a prominent place)
- Bread, all baked goods, baking
This is the main problem of salt: due to the fact that it is too actively added to a wide variety of finished products, we have lost the ability to control its consumption. Moreover, an overdose of sodium in this case is much more dangerous than an excess of chlorine, oddly enough.
Excess sodium is excreted through the kidneys, with urine. If a person consumes too much sodium, the kidneys do not have time to dispose of it. This leads to stagnant fluid, an increase in circulating blood volume and, as a result, an increase in pressure on the walls of blood vessels (hypertension).
In this situation, the risk of stroke and heart attack increases dramatically. Both diseases are considered to be the main causes of death in adults under the age limit.
So, salt should still be abandoned? Not certainly in that way.
The problem is not salt, but our food habits. It has been proven that the problem of hypertension is a complex problem.
Research conducted under the auspices of the DASH movement (Dietary Approach to the Prevention of Hypertension) clearly demonstrates: to combat high blood pressure, it is important, first of all, to lose weight (in most hypertensive patients it is above normal) and stop consuming alcoholic beverages. In addition, it is necessary to control sodium intake from various food sources, primarily from fast food and convenience foods.
In other words, when returning to a healthy lifestyle, even potential hypertensive patients do not need to eat completely unsalted homemade food.
According to experts, the Europeans, who lived 100-200 years ago, consumed up to 70 g of salt per day. Against this background, modern recommendations of dietitians look more than ascetic. Nowadays, 4-6 grams per day is considered the normal salt intake for a healthy adult.
In hypertension, doctors still recommend reducing salt intake to 1-2 g. These recommendations take into account the fact that people cannot completely abandon the finished products, such as bread, butter, cheese, cottage cheese, and they already have salt.
- Buy fresh raw foods: raw meat, fish, poultry do not exactly contain salt as an additive.
- Choose finished products “without salt” – manufacturers must indicate the presence or absence of salt in the column “composition”. At a minimum, there is unsalted butter, unsalted cottage cheese, unsalted diet bread.
- Salt homemade food when cooked and not at ease. When we salt the finished dish, we always use more salt than we could. In addition, if you are talking about boiled food, salt water (especially if iodized salt) speeds up the cooking process and does not allow healthy nutrients to be boiled from the products.
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