Salt, otherwise known as sodium, is necessary in small quantities for our body functions. Salt helps for the conduction of nerve impulses, the contraction and relaxation of our muscles, and it plays a role in the fluid and mineral balance in our bodies.

Too much salt intake can cause health problems that include:

  • An enlarged heart muscle
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Fluid retention
  • Kidney stones
  • Kidney disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Heart failure and strokes

It can also cause problems with our blood vessels and brains. Sodium is found naturally in many foods, but the majority of salt that we eat is usually added to our foods. Even foods that don’t taste salty can be sources of high sodium.

Many canned, processed, and convenience foods as well as fast foods have a higher sodium content so eating them in moderation is best to maintain a healthy balance.

The list of foods that are high in sodium is long. These include:

  • Foods canned in brine
  • Salted nuts
  • Smoked, cured, or salted meats (most deli meats have a high sodium content)
  • Potato crisps
  • Frozen Pizza
  • Buttermilk
  • Processed cheeses, cheese sauces and cheese spreads
  • Ready mix pancake and waffle mixes
  • Salted crackers
  • Olives, pickles, fermented foods such as sauerkraut
  • Soya sauce
  • Marinades
  • Condiments such as tomato sauce and some mustards

Not all of these foods are unhealthy, but the idea is to eat them as part of a balanced diet and to make sure that if you are eating high sodium containing foods that you balance them out with more neutral foods. Fresh vegetables and salad greens are more alkaline and are good to include with every meal, not just those higher in sodium.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 26 October 2023 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am.