How Much Salt Should You Be Eating?

March 6, 2017

There’s a reason we say good people are “the salt of the earth” and reliable people are “worth their salt.”

Salt, or sodium chloride, is a valuable mineral. It’s an essential nutrient the human body cannot make itself and plays a role in nerve and muscle function as well as regulating the body’s water content.  (No wonder your taste buds perk up every time a pretzel touches your tongue, right?) Salt deficiency can lead to dehydration, low blood pressure, and yes, even death. Don’t let that scare you though, because the majority of Americans consume way too much salt  in their daily diets, leading to an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

Want to change your diet? Not sure how? Parsley Health offers personalized plans to help our patients figure out the best nutrition plan for them. Schedule a free call with one of our health experts today!

So, how much is too much salt in food?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans  recommend limiting your daily intake in food to 2300 mg, which is a little less than one teaspoon. Keep in mind that that number is an upper limit—you can take in much less and be totally healthy. Other sources, like the American Heart Association , recommend an ideal limit as low as 1500 mg per day.

Craving more nutrition intel? Sign up for Keri Glassman’s Nutritious Life newsletter !

But what if I mortgaged my house to buy magical Himalayan Sea Salt?

There are a few different kinds of salt, and some are touted as healthier than others. Here are the main differences I think are important:

Regular Table Salt is sourced from soil and has its minerals removed through heavy processing. Then, it’s loaded with additives to prevent the granules from clumping. Iodine, the only mineral not naturally found in sea salt, is also added. Iodine controls the release of hormones and deficiency can lead to weight gain  and fatigue,  as well as neurological, gastrointestinal, and skin issues , but if you are eating a balanced diet that contains whole foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats , and seafood, you’ll already get adequate amounts. (And the salt added to packaged foods is not even the iodized kind.)

Sea Salt, on the other hand, is exactly what it sounds like—salt from the deep, blue sea. Ocean water is evaporated leaving behind the salt, which contains trace amounts of minerals in varying amounts (depending on where it’s from). These different minerals can add a variety of flavors to your salt shaker and also result in a coarser texture. I consider sea salt to be the healthier option because it’s the least processed.

Himalayan Sea Salt, finally, is an unrefined salt that is hand mined from ancient salt caves (and is usually pretty in pink). Proponents say it contains more than 80 trace minerals that are good for you, but most experts agree they’re not present in high-enough amounts to actually affect your health. It is unprocessed, unlike table salt, so that’s a good thing. But it’s also outrageously expensive compared to regular sea salt or table salt.

A Grain (or Three) of Advice

Keeping all of that in mind, I present you with a solution: Get your minerals primarily from a whole-food diet filled with vegetables, whole grains,  and seafood. Avoid packaged foods as much as possible, as they tend to be super salty (canned soups are particularly bad, even the organic ones!), and minimize salt at restaurant meals by avoiding the salt shaker since they are already salty enough. In other words, cooking for yourself at home  will naturally lower your salt intake. For flavor, shake on a little bit, but try to stay below the recommended daily amount. And don’t stress  over the different kinds. In the end, they’re all sodium chloride, and choosing one over the other will not have a major effect on your overall diet.

Want a better doctor? We’re it.

Become a Parsley Health member  to join a growing community of people who believe health care can and should be different.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

This piece was originally published on Keri Glassman’s Nutritious Life.

Read full bio
readiness quiz

Get a snapshot of your health - right now.

Take our quiz to get your symptom score and start uncovering the why behind your symptoms.

Related Posts
Get “Prescription for Happiness” and Reach a New Level of Energy, Clarity, and Calm
Four Smart Ways to Track Your Heart Health Today
How to Select the Right Health Coach for You
10 TikTok Health Trends Worth Trying—and Avoiding
12 Gifts For The Well-Being Seekers In Your Life
Doctor examining patient


Our leading medical providers and health coaches heal the root cause of health concerns with a personalized care plan and year-round support. Our root-cause resolution medicine has helped thousands feel better, with 85% of members reducing symptoms in their first year.

Parsley Health medical providers are trained to treat the root cause of complex, chronic conditions and symptoms. Ready to start feeling better?

Get Symptom Score