Think You Need to Cut Out the Salt? The Sodium and Potassium Connection

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For years salt was demonized for creating high blood pressure and heart issues. But is that really the case? Or was it because we are eating highly processed salt and sodium chemicals like MSG that our body did not know how to process. We all know too much highly processed salt is bad for us, but what about high-quality sea salt and Himalayan salt? Do we really need to cut out the salt?

Salt intake above 2,000mg per day is associated with high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for kidney disease and cardiovascular disease (such as heart disease and stroke). However, not all studies agree that salt leads to hypertension.

When I think back to my teenage years when my grandfather, who had high blood pressure, used a replacement “salt” that was not really salt, I am not sure what this stuff was, but it was terrible! He used to sneak it into my food, and I could always tell. He really believed that he needed to cut all salt out! But then he also used to eat out in restaurants and eat packaged foods, which completely defeats the purpose.

I would announce it indignantly that he used the fake salt, and he would retort, “There is no way you can tell!” Mind over matter, he swore no one could tell the difference, including him. WRONG! And guess what? We need salt! And I didn’t think I needed to cut salt out of my diet anyway. I was 16!

All I can tell you are my personal experiences. You will have to do your own research to determine how it will affect you, but I think salt is getting a bad rap these days. Of course, if you have a medical condition, please listen to your doctor. But for me? Cutting out salt is not an option! Eating a whole foods diet is the key.

Do they REALLY know that salt is the culprit? From what I have read, no. You can read about it here. I am not so sure we should be cutting out the salt! What I do know is that we should be cutting out sodium products that are in processed foods. Americans certainly do not need additional salt in their diet due to eating foods laced with sodium preservatives. I will argue though that we need better quality salt to help regulate the minerals in our bodies.

What Is Salt?

People are questioning conventional wisdom concerning cutting salt and high blood pressure.

  • The salt compound is a crystalline mineral made of two elements, sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl).
  • Salt is necessary for the body to function.
  • Salt gets a bad rap because water follows salt, which can cause swelling. Reducing salt does lower blood pressure in many people. Water follows salt. This is where swelling comes from when you have too much.

The vast majority of sodium in the Western diet comes from processed foods. If you eat mostly whole, unprocessed foods, you don’t need to worry about adding some salt to your meals.

So what is the difference?

The processing. According to some reports, Himalayan and Sea Salt have a higher mineral count and are lower in sodium. Most claim it is not enough to make a difference.

Iodine is added to table salt, and this is VERY important. I choose to eat iodine-rich foods like eggs and seaweed, and I have cut the white iodized table salt. I also supplement iodine. When you are deficient in iodine, it is responsible for many thyroid-related issues and is a real health concern.

Years ago, I started eliminating all packaged food. Meaning it was processed and packaged with additional ingredients. This is important. Even your taco seasoning probably has MSG in it.

I avoid all types of processed packaged food because food manufacturers need to use processed salt for preservation. This, in turn, also means your food has already lost precious mineral content because of its long shelf life. That is another story, and this is just about salt.

An Imbalance of Salt and Potassium

The Lancet report utilizes data from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology study, involving 168,000 adults, age 35-70, in 664 global urban and rural communities, representing low, middle, and high-income countries. Community aggregated potassium intake demonstrated an inverse relationship.

Potassium appeared protective from cardiovascular events. And in some instances, increased sodium intake resulted in fewer cardiovascular events.

We can interpret the findings of potassium in one of two ways. To those connecting dots directly, potassium exerts a protective effect, and we should set recommended daily minimum requirements. But for those who are a bit freer in their linkages, note that potassium is found in no small measure in fruits and vegetables, in which case potassium may well be a marker for a better diet rather than a protective agent.”

Why Sodium and Potassium Matter To Each Other

Sodium and potassium are closely intertwined, but they have the opposite effect on your body. They are both essential nutrients that play key roles in maintaining balance, and both have been linked to the risk of chronic diseases, especially cardiovascular disease. High salt intake increases blood pressure, leading to heart disease, while high potassium intake can help relax blood vessels and excrete sodium while decreasing blood pressure. Our bodies need far more potassium than sodium each day. Still, the typical U.S. diet is just the opposite: Americans average about 3,300 milligrams of sodium per day, about 75% of which comes from processed foods, while only getting about 2,900 milligrams of potassium each day.

A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that:

  • People who ate high-sodium, low-potassium diets had a higher risk of dying from a heart attack or any cause. In this study, people with the highest sodium intakes had a 20% higher risk of death from any cause than people with the lowest sodium intakes. People with the highest potassium intakes had a 20% lower risk of dying than people with the lowest intakes. But what may be even more important for health is the relationship of sodium to potassium in the diet. People with the highest ratio of sodium to potassium in their diets had double the risk of dying of a heart attack than people with the lowest ratio, and they had a 50% higher risk of death from any cause.
  • People can make a key dietary change to help lower their risk: Eat more fresh vegetables and fruits, which are naturally high in potassium and low in sodium, but eat less bread, cheese, processed meat, and other processed foods that are high in sodium and low in potassium.

Here is what I found.

We do not need that much sodium, but we do need a lot of potassium. If you are eating frozen products or at restaurants that ship in pre-made products, usually the large corporate ones, or use spices loaded with MSG, then you will be getting too much sodium. Think dressings, soda, yes even club soda and sauces.

The restaurants ship these in from a co-packer. They are not made fresh with whole ingredients, so how do they preserve them? You guessed it, salt. Those are your main culprits. We try to eat at locally owned chef-run kitchens to avoid getting these types of processed foods.

I started taking a 1/4 teaspoon of high-quality, minimally processed sea salt in the morning and parking it under my tongue. I tried it when I had a headache, and the headache happened to go away. All of a sudden, I felt better and had more energy. This happened over and over again. I told my husband to do it for his tinnitus. After reading about the condition, it is believed to be caused by mineral imbalances or dehydration.

He started drinking 90oz. of purified water per day and taking a 1/4 tsp of sea salt three times per day. You know what? IT WORKED! He is no longer yelling stories at me because he can not hear over the crickets in his head and his leg cramps are gone. Yes, a lot of it is the water but when he quits doing the salt it comes back even though he is drinking his water. He takes some salt and voila it goes away.

My only best guess based on how we feel? We eliminated the bad salt so we were deficient! We needed to add back in good salt.

If you want to add good salt then you must take away the bad salt.

The bottom line we are inundated with overly processed salt that are overloading our bodies.

Look at your spice cabinet. Everything I had was a blend that is full of gluten and processed salt. Cajun seasoning, taco seasoning, steak seasoning, lemon pepper. Yes, this is where I found out Yeast Extract was the new fancy name for MSG. Toss it and make your own seasoning blend or just add them in layers on your meats and veggies.

Staples in my kitchen are Sea Salt, Cracked Pepper, and Organic Garlic both dried and fresh. The second most used are Rosemary, Cayenne Pepper, Cinnamon, and Nutmeg. I try to keep all of my spices organic.

Grow your own herbs. Dried herbs are great but so are fresh ones. I love fresh chives or scallion in my sour cream. Fresh dill on your deviled eggs makes all the difference in presenting a unique deviled egg. There is nothing better than going out to pick your organic basil for your organic tomato sauce. It is healthy and far less expensive than purchasing jarred sauce.

Next is to learn to use citrus as a flavor. I love to cook with both lemon and lime. Low in sugar, they bring a lot of flavor to the table without the bad stuff. I will pickle my onions with lime and cook my chicken in fresh organic lemon juice. YUM!

As always, read the ingredients.

Corporate America is trying to rectify this by using sea salt in our products. I see it more and more every day.

Start experimenting with new flavors. Start small in small doses. Learn how to cook rather than heating up!

Check out our article on the Adrenal Cocktail to find an easy way to get the salt and potassium you need in your diet!

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*Statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Always consult a licensed health care professional before starting any supplement or nutraceutical. Especially if you are pregnant or have any pre-existing medical conditions. Individual results may vary.

Source: Salt and Sodium;;

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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any product(s) on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Always consult a licensed health care professional before starting any supplement or nutraceutical. Especially if you are pregnant or have any pre-existing medical conditions. Individual results may vary. These are from my own experience and the experience of others and only our opinions.

46 responses to “Think You Need to Cut Out the Salt? The Sodium and Potassium Connection”

  1. Julie Gazdecki Avatar
    Julie Gazdecki

    Interesting to know the relationship between salt and potassium. It’s all about the proper balance from eating real food.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Exactly! We need SO MUCH potassium too!

  2. Danielle Ardizzone Avatar
    Danielle Ardizzone

    Such valuable information! I hadn’t thought of how the two might interact.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Yes! There are so many hidden connections.

  3. Cindy Avatar

    Great post! I’ve eliminated MSG from my diet too…I react badly to it. I use sea salt, black pepper and fresh or dried herbs, many of them from my own garden.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      So much more authentic flavor this way too!

  4. Maya Avatar

    Very informative. The Sodium Potassium connection was a good reminder.

  5. Marianne Avatar

    We only add minimal salt when cooking. My in-laws used to load their food and it really ruined the taste of what could have been great meals.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I usually only use it on meats before grilling. I agree. Too much and you do not taste the food anymore!

  6. Suzan Avatar

    Whole food eating is what I’ve been preaching, well, forever. We need appropriate fats, and , yes, salt in our daily diets. I appreciate your breakdown!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Thanks Suzan! Shopping the walls is another good one. Nothing good happens on those center aisles.

  7. Kristin Avatar

    Very informative! I’ve always thought salt was bad but my husband is super healthy and he puts a lot of (real) salt on everything!!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Nope! We need it. And with the right mineral balances, you can use it.

  8. Chelsea Avatar

    Totally agree on the processed foods and fast food. My body reacts terribly to high sodium foods. But when I add salt to a dish I’m making at home, it’s totally different. It blows my mind how much sodium is in frozen meals especially.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Right? That classic feeling of bloating, the headache, and then the dehydration. It is terrible!

  9. Karen Avatar

    I always learn something new in your wellness posts. I love salt so am happy I don’t have to cut it out of my diet. Thanks for the tips and the relationship to potassium.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Thanks Karen! I am so glad.

  10. Tiffany Avatar

    It’s shocking how much we told incorrectly about the food we eat. We are trying to switch to more nonprocessed foods now too because of it

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Yes! It really is a wonderful lifestyle. The change can be difficult at first but I never have regretted it.

  11. Allison Peteet Avatar
    Allison Peteet

    Very interesting article. I’m with you, cutting salt from my diet is not going to happen, but I may use your information to modify, as needed. Thanks for all the useful information.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Thanks Allison! It is really the sodium in processed foods that is terrible. I always say, 80/20! And do the best you can.

  12. Pam Avatar

    Very interesting thoughts on why we don’t need to cut out the salt. I tend to use Redmonds Sea Salt when I cook and I can definitely tell a difference in the flavor.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      It is so much better! You actually need less.

  13. Sabrina DeWalt Avatar
    Sabrina DeWalt

    I have found that I feel much better since I started eating mostly whole foods.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Yes! Convenience has overtaken good health.

  14. Barbara Avatar

    Very good information to consider! Well done!

  15. Debbie Avatar

    Yes we need sodium in our bodies. Sounds like you have figured out what is good sodium and harmful sodium!

  16. Lisa Avatar

    This is great information. I was thinking about sodium potassium balance before I got to that section on your post.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Ahhh … it sounds like you know some stuff! That new study was so interesting!

  17. Christy Avatar

    Wow! This is some great information, thank you!

  18. Larissa Li Avatar
    Larissa Li

    Yeah. So true! When I eat high sodium processed food I get a head ache. I quite eating pickles and canned food and can tell the difference.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Oh good for you! Pickles are hard to give up!

  19. Alexis Farmer Avatar
    Alexis Farmer

    This is really interesting! The fake salt is sooo nasty. There are definitely misconceptions about needing salt.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Lol yes it is nasty! Thanks Alexis!

  20. Stephanie Avatar

    Great information! I always worry about salt content even when cooking at home. However, I use minimally processed sea salt – I guess that is a good thing! I love the idea of increasing other herbs and spices in order to keep salt levels lower. Thank you for this post!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Thank you Stephanie! Minimally processed Sea Salt is your best option and making sure you are getting that large amount if Potassium we need each day.

  21. Megan Avatar

    It’s amazing how much salt (and other awful things) are in prepackaged meals. There’s so many benefits to fresh!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Thanks Megan. It is pretty terrible!

  22. Carolyn Avatar

    That was really interesting! I had horrible migraines for years. I found that if I ate something salty when I felt it coming on, about half the time it went away. I don’t get migraines that often anymore, but I am curious to see if a little sea salt daily will keep them away entirely.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I love that little trick. People are always shocked, as was I when they first learn it.

  23. Holly B Avatar
    Holly B

    It’s always important to watch different aspects of ones health.. and growing fresh herbs in the garden can definitely help add flavor to meals.. thank you for sharing the info on sodium!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Yes! It is an excellent way to add flavor.

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