Some opt for cupcakes, while the rest reach for the Pringles. The desire to pass the salt may be thanks to mom and dad, since sodium preference is influenced by genetic makeup (in rats, at least). Some scientists even believe excessive salt cravings may be due to evolution, since salt has been coveted for its ability to preserve food throughout history. But the big question is whether or not salt is actually dangerous. So why do these cravings occur, and how can we shake the salt habit for good? (Or do we even need to?)
Salty Situation — The Need-to-Know
It’s no secret that salt can boost food’s flavor factor. And in small pinches, salt isn’t only tasty — it’s important for the body. Table salt (or what we like to shake all over the kitchen) is made of 40 percent sodium, an electrolyte that helps balance fluids in the body. Water tends to move to higher concentrations of sodium, so the more sodium, the morewater the body retains. But too much sodium can put more than a bad taste in our mouths. The CDC recommendsAmericans consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day (or roughly one teaspoon of salt), and those with certain medical conditions (like high blood pressure) should really keep consumption to under 1,500 mg per day. But the average American consumes about 3,400 mg daily, which can contribute to major heart problems. (Yikes!) Reaching for those salty snacks makes it harder for the kidney to eliminate the excess sodium, which may lead to an increase in blood volume. This forces the body to work harder to pump blood,raising blood pressure to a dangerous degree. Talk about a salty situation.
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But when the Doritos bag is laying a few inches away, it’s hard to resist grabbing a handful. Craving that salty sweetness may be due to a few factors, one being calcium deficiency. Sodium temporarily increases calcium levels in the blood, tricking the body into thinking it’s been given calcium. (Got Milk, anyone?) But …..