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Is Salt Bad for Me? Is it Unhealthy to Cook With Salt?

Recently, a patient asked me about salt. She grew up with the idea that salt was particularly unhealthy, and her parents did not use salt at all when cooking. Now, in her own home, she also does not use salt. She was surprised when I suggested a recipe for roasted vegetables that contains salt.

salt shaker

Is it Unhealthy to Cook with Salt?

There are definitely some situations that necessitate a low sodium diet to prevent health problems. Some examples are if someone has chronic kidney disease, heart failure, and salt-sensitive hypertension. Even in these cases, a low sodium diet is not a zero sodium diet. There are no typical reasons to decrease sodium or salt intake to absolutely none. Using salt strategically in foods, combined with other flavor components, can keep a low sodium diet still tasting delicious.

On the other hand, a healthy adult or child does not need to be concerned specifically about avoiding sodium or salt. Using salt appropriately in cooking is fine. Additionally, the excess sodium in a person's diet rarely is from using salt in cooking. It is more likely to come from takeout, fast food, and convenience foods such as burgers, fries, pizza, frozen dinners, and instant noodle soups. If someone is aiming to improve the nutritional quality of food, more home-cooked food and less takeout and convenience food improves nutrition for more reasons than the food's sodium content.

Important Reason to Cook with Salt: Flavor

Salt is an important flavor component of food. It enhances the flavor of the food itself and it enhances the flavor of the seasonings, herbs, and spices in the food. Food is meant to be pleasurable, and appropriately flavored food is part of that. It is important to understand that when a certain food component can be harmful to some people when consumed in excess, it is not necessarily a problem for other people when consumed in appropriate amounts.

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