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You've probably been told that eating too much salt is bad for you, especially if you have high blood pressure. But what exactly does salt do to our bodies that can make it so hard on our hearts?

Hosted by: Olivia Gordon
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Sources:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4105387/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14974027
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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23558162
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2782060/
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260997721_Compared_With_Usual_Sodium_Intake_Low-_and_Excessive-Sodium_Diets_Are_Associated_With_Increased_Mortality_A_Meta-Analysis
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673616304676
https://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@hcm/documents/downloadable/ucm_300625.pdf
http://news.heart.org/experts-criticize-new-study-about-salt-consumption/
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure/art-20045868?pg=1
https://www.cdc.gov/salt/pdfs/sources_of_sodium.pdf
(Intro)

You've probably been told to eat less salt at some point in your life, especially if you have high blood pressure.  There's tons of salt in pre-made and prepackaged food and 90% of Americans at least eat more than 2300 milligrams a day, the recommended limit, which translates to about a teaspoon of table salt.  What your doctor is really concerned about is the sodium in salt.

We need sodium to survive.  It plays an important role in almost every part of your body, but when you eat too much of it, it can cause some serious damage.  When you eat salt, the sodium winds up in your bloodstream, where it draws more water into your blood vessels to keep the overall concentration of sodium in balance, but that means there's more liquid running through your blood vessels, which creates more pressure so too much salt can raise your blood pressure and as you probably know, high blood pressure isn't great for you.  Over time, high blood pressure damages blood vessel walls, creating little pockets for fats, platelets, and other debris to build up.  These build ups, called plaques, make the blood vessels narrower.  Then your heart has to work harder to pump blood through a narrower, less stretchy tube, and the heart isn't really a muscle you want to strain.  

High blood pressure can also cause kidney problems, making it harder for your kidneys to filter out the excess sodium from your blood and keep your blood pressure down.  In case that doesn't sound bad enough, high blood pressure can damage blood vessels in the brain leading to problems like strokes and dementia.  High blood pressure can affect other parts of your body, too.  It can do things like cause sexual dysfunction, lead to bone loss, and damage blood vessels in the eye.  

So most experts agree that you should keep below the daily 2300mg limit, especially if you already have high blood pressure.  

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