We crave it. We love it. It’s not surprising why: salt makes food taste delectable. It helps keep food fresh and safe from spoilage. We also need salt. We literally can’t survive without sodium. Salt (a.k.a. sodium chloride) is our chief supply of this mineral, which helps our muscles contract, sends nerve impulses throughout our bodies and regulates fluid balance so we don’t become dehydrated.
But for more than four decades, health authorities have urged us to consume less salt. That’s because salt is roughly 40 percent sodium and too much of it can elevate blood pressure. In your body, sodium acts like a magnet for water, pulling fluid into your bloodstream. That excess liquid increases the pressure in your blood vessels and over time can damage their linings, potentially causing blood clots to form. Once those blood clots develop, they can eventually cause blockages that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.