Have you thought about where excess sodium is hiding and how it kills? Look again. We usually eat nearly twice the sodium we should, and this is normally done without touching the saltshaker.


It is more than the risk of high Blood Pressure and subsequent heart disease and stroke that prompted my mom to hide the shaker from my dad 20 years ago. Excessive sodium is now linked to other illness such as Cancer and kidney stones. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day (equivalent to 0.46 teaspoon) and moving toward an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults (0.3 teaspoon).



Salt breaks up into sodium and chloride when ingested. The kidney is responsible for removing chloride when we consume in excess, and when it can no longer keep up with the load, the body then stores it in the bone to maintain a balance. According to American Bone Health, this process results in a net loss of calcium from the body and contributes to osteoporosis, threatening bone density and strength, thus the more we limit sodium the less calcium we excrete and the weaker our bones become.


According to research, Stomach cancer is the fourth most common in the world but the second highest killer, with an estimated 776,000 deaths a year. People who consistently eat highly salted foods may double their risk of stomach cancer. A report from Japan found that men with the highest salt intakes had double the risk of stomach cancer. The study suggested that the risk of stomach cancer among men with low salt intake was one in 1,000 a year, doubling to one in 500 among those with high salt intake. The risk was one in 2,000 for women with low salt diets and one in 1,300 for those who ate a lot of salt.

Make a cautious effort to buy low salt versions of your favourite foods when shopping. This can be done by looking at product labels in store. Try also to stay away from adding more salt to food at the table.


Researcher from the National Heart lung and Blood institute found that as they increased salt levels in the laboratory cell’s DNA strands begin to break and cells pair mechanism shut down and when cell concentrations return to normal the cells begin to repair DNA again. Researchers found that the same DNA caused damage in the kidneys of mice. The next step is to see if these results hold true for human kidneys.


Unwanted fluids in the blood are removed from the body by filtering our blood through the kidney, via osmosis, to draw excess water out of your blood. A balance of sodium and potassium is required to pull the water across the wall from the bloodstream into a collecting channel in the kidney. This normal sodium balance is altered with a high salt diet, reducing the kidney function thus less water is removed resulting in higher blood pressure. This puts a strain on the kidneys and may lead to kidney disease.

High salt intake has been shown to increase the amount of protein in the urine which is a major risk factor for the decline of kidney function. There is also increasing evidence that high salt intake may increase deterioration of the kidney in people already suffering from kidney problems.  In a 5-year study Italian Researchers found that limiting protein and salt may be more effective in preventing the recurrence of Calcium Oxalate kidney Stone than the more traditional calcium restricted diet. Salt intake increases the amount of urinary protein which is a major risk factor for developing kidney disease and cardiovascular disease.

If you are considered at risk of kidney disease or renal failure, ensure that you keep your salt intake below the recommended maximum of 2,300mg.


  1. Use less salt when cooking — try using a squeeze of lemon or small quantities of herbs and spices as an alternative
  2. Choose fresh foods where possible
  3. Choose foods with a lower salt content: food products that say “low sodium” on the package have 140mg of sodium or less per serving, while products marked “very low sodium” have no more than 35 milligrams
  4. Be leery of certain veggies. One stalk of celery contains 35.2 milligrams of sodium. Other vegetables to watch are beets, carrots, mustard greens, spinach, frozen peas, frozen lima beans, and tomato juice, sauce, paste or puree. The sodium values range from 35 to 155 milligrams for one cup cooked of any above vegetable. To my veggie lovers trying to cut down on sodium, try munching peppers (green, yellow, orange, or red), green onions, cauliflower, cabbage, or broccoli instead.


Sodium raises Blood Pressure. Reducing its intake by just 300mg, reduces systolic pressure significantly  by 2 – 4 points and the diastolic by 2 – 4 points.

Be leery of salt substitutes, which mostly contain potassium chloride. Certain blood pressure medications or kidney problems may consider salt substitutes a bad choice. And keep in mind that “light salt” is still salt. So, I suggest you simply stay off salt all together.


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