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?

  • Quick follow up: Does the sodium content in grams indicate how much SALT is added? Or do they add straight up sodium, because that doesn't seem safe...
    – nelomad
    Aug 31, 2016 at 22:55

1 Answer 1


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,[20] stiffens conduit arteries11 and thickens and narrows resistance arteries,[22] including the coronary[23] and renal arteries.[24] A high salt intake is also directly related to the number of strokes,[25] severity of cardiac failure,[26] adhesiveness of platelets,[27,,28] carcinoma of the stomach[29] and, to bone demineralization.[30]

Blood pressure of people who have an extremely low salt intake :

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.

  • Alright I understand that salt is bad for health. But is the sodium content directly related to salt? I thought it was an indicator of preservatives as ready made foods have high sodium.
    – Cool_Coder
    May 31, 2016 at 20:49
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    -1 for "salt is extremely bad for the body". Sodium is essential for body functioning.
    – rumtscho
    Jun 2, 2016 at 9:57
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    @rumtscho I've changed the text to put this issue in the proper context. While sodium is indeed essential, this is irrelevant to the sodium in our diet as it is present in excessive quantities, so much so that even a salt restricted diet will contain so much salt that it will still do harm. Jun 2, 2016 at 19:58
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    "Normal" salt intake ----> "normal" blood pressure ----> "normal" elevated blood pressure when aging ----> "normal" diseases like heart attacks and strokes. youtube.com/watch?v=whhUycC71X0 Jun 2, 2016 at 20:12
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    @JJosaur No, not true at all. High salt intake causes water retention, which increases blood volume and therefore blood pressure. Young, healthy people can get away with that, but as they age their arteries become stiffer, less elastic, and less able to adapt to the increased blood volume. Hence, hypertension develops.
    – Carey Gregory
    Sep 1, 2016 at 22:05

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