Generally I find that packed food items that would probably be laced with heavy doses of preservatives contain high amount of sodium (as high as 45% DV, I saw this on one item in Walmart). Is higher sodium content an indicator of unhealthy food? I am confused because natural foods like chicken are also shown very high amount of sodium. Even fruit drinks contain high amount of sodium. Is it good or bad for our body?
While salt is an essential compound that the body needs, we need less than 0.1 grams of salt per day while a very strict low salt diet will lead to intakes of the order of a few grams per day. It has been argued that people with normal blood pressure readings of 120/70 mmHg actually suffer from hypertension caused by lifelong excessive salt intake. While such arguments may be bit controversial, limiting sodium intake by as much as you can is recommended by all health agencies. You can do this by avoiding ready made foods and instead preparing your own food which gives you the option to not add any salt to your food. As pointed out in this article where the arguments of a critic are debunked:
...in addition to, and independent of, raising blood pressure, a high salt intake increases the mass of the left ventricular wall, stiffens conduit arteries11 and thickens and narrows resistance arteries, including the coronary and renal arteries. A high salt intake is also directly related to the number of strokes, severity of cardiac failure, adhesiveness of platelets,[27,,28] carcinoma of the stomach and, to bone demineralization.
RESULTS: The findings in the Yanomami population were as follows: a very low urinary sodium excretion (0.9 mmol/24 h); mean systolic and diastolic BP levels of 95.4 mmHg and 61.4 mmHg, respectively; no cases of hypertension or obesity; and they have no knowledge of alcoholic beverages. Their BP levels do not elevate with age. The urinary sodium excretion relates positively and the urinary potassium excretion relates negatively to systolic BP. This correlation was maintained even when controlled for age and body mass index.