Eat Less Salt: A Doctor Explains Why


“Where would we be without salt?,” asked celebrated food writer James Beard. A cardiologist’s answer to that is likely to be a wry ,”in a healthier place.”

Is salt actually good for you, but just a victim of bad press? Can too much salt give you a heart attack? Is it possible to keep your taste buds happy on a low-salt diet?

I asked esteemed New Delhi-based cardiologist Dr. K.K.Aggarwal to sort out the healthy, the harmful, and the hype. Let me reproduce my interview with him for you:

Is salt bad for my heart?

Short answer: yes.


Salt increases blood pressure.


Salt contains sodium, which causes the body to retain water. When the level of body fluids goes up, blood pressure increases.  Increased blood pressure puts a strain on the heart.

Scary. Anything else?

Plenty. That innocent-looking white powder can cause kidney troubles, too.

More with Dr. K.K.Aggarwal on the next page!

What’s the connection?

The kidneys maintain normal levels of sodium in your body. If there is too much sodium, the kidneys excrete it. Conversely, when the body needs sodium, the kidneys maintain it, and then pump it back into the blood. But when you eat extra salt, the kidneys fail to excrete enough sodium, which holds water, raising the volume of blood. When a lot of blood passes through the arteries and veins, it exerts pressure on their walls.

Ouch! And?

Anti blood pressure drugs also have kidney protective actions. They reduce the excretion of proteins in the urine. Eating too much salt may impair this beneficial effect of some drugs, like calcium channel blockers and ACE inhibitors on kidney.

Too much salt intake can also increase the excretion of calcium in the urine. It is also linked to insulin resistance where the internally produced insulin may fail to work effectively, causing high blood sugar levels.

Aargh! So, What’s a salt-lover to do?

  • Alternate the varieties of salt you use in your cooking: rock salt, kosher salt and regular salt. Each one has different minerals and properties. Plus: your food gets a jump-start on taste.
  • Use lemon juice instead of salt in your salads. It works wonders for the flavour, too.
  • Use half the amount of salt a recipe calls for, then add tiny pinches till the dish is just salty enough, but still low on sodium. Of course it qill take some time for you get used to lower salt in your food, but the patience and the effort are totally worth it.
  • Processed foods = High sodium. Just ditch them. Even butter is now available minus the salt!
  • Just one serving of fries and burgers can overshoot your entire day’s allowance of sodium. Indulge with caution.

Check out the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Low Sodium Meals. It’s a yummy resource that offers more than 250 low-salt recipes and amazingly easy ideas for exploring other herbs and spices.

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William C
William Cabout a year ago

Thank you.

Angelo M.
Angelo M.6 years ago

Eat the Right Amount of Salt?
Not eating enough salt is also detrimental to your health.
You need more salt when you sweat a lot.
So what is the right amount of salt to eat? Less than 6 g per day ( …. But more than 2 grams per day.
That is a lot of salt!
Adding salt to your food just before you eat it is the easiest way to get the salty taste with out over loading your food with salt.
Too much salt increases blood pressure, however a recent study concluded that there was ‘no strong evidence’ that lowering levels in the diet reduced the risk of heart disease or premature death.
Are all salts the same? Well I prefer sea salt because it only contains 86% salt, and also contains important minerals like 2.7% Magnesium, 1.1% potassium and 1.2% calcium.(

Holly Lawrence
Holly Lawrence6 years ago

Gosh, I put salt on everything .. I am shameless.. but I will try, I really need to:(

Crystal Cox
Crystal C6 years ago

People do need sodium, but I can agree that it's in moderation. Have there been any studies that prove it's bad for your heart? I cannot say, but most of my doctors do say that it is. I didn't know that it affects your kidneys, that was a new one for me. I prefer to use Sea Salt when I'm flavoring food. I just like the way it tastes, and I'm pretty sure it has minerals in it that benefit your body. I don't put salt on everything though. Actually, I usually only add it when I cook. Just to pour salt on my plate on food that I think isn't salty enough, I don't do often. With the exeption of mashed potatoes. I don't like eating those if there isn't the right amount of salt that I like. Anyways, thanks for the article.

june koylass-ali
june koylass-ali6 years ago

hmmmm, not sure i agree with this

Dawn G.
Dawn Harvey6 years ago

Good to know, thanks.

Bob P.

thanks for sharing

Miss May
Ashley Piechocki6 years ago

Thanks for the article. I need to get my husband to eat less salt!

Angelo M.
Angelo M.6 years ago

In order to understand what this post, we all need to know about the recommended daily intake (RDI) of nutrients. This is much better than saying stay away from things like salt, sugar and fats.
The RDI of sodium is some 0.9 to 2.3g per day ( ).
To convert this into grams of sodium chloride, one must multiply the weight by 2.5, so the RDI of soduium chloride is 2.3 to 5.9g per day. That is a lot of salt!
It only takes less than 0.2g of salt to prepare my salad, so I have at least 2 -5g more grams of salt I can eat in a day.
Salt and many other osmogents, like sugars and alcohol increases the amount of water in the body which increases, blood volume which in turn increases blood pressure. We have been told that high blood pressure is bad, so too much salt must be bad???
A recent study concluded that there was ‘no strong evidence’ that lowering levels in the diet reduced the risk of heart disease or premature death.
Are all salts the same? Well I prefer sea salt because it contains minerals that we need in our diet.
It is difficult to know how much salt one is eating if one eats processed foods or eats out.
So if one eats processed foods or eats out, it will be diffcult to know whether you are getting more or less the RDI of salt.

William K.
William K6 years ago

Have you ever tried shopping for food that does not have sodium in it? It is in just about everything. It would be very easy to overshoot the 100% RDA if one does not pay attention.