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For thousands of years, salt has been used to preserve food, as a method of payment, and even as an antibiotic. Salt is made of 40% sodium and 60% chloride and is essential for our bodies to function properly. Too much salt, however, is not healthy and can lead to high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Here are facts about the history of salt and ways to limit your salt intake to maintain good health.

• Salt is found in sea water or in deposits made from dried up salt water beds.

• Salt is mentioned in the bible more than 30 times.

• Salt is mentioned in writings from as early as 2700 BC.

• The word salary comes from the word salt since salt was a common form of payment.

• Salt can kill some types of bacteria by drawing the water out of the cell.

• Most of our salt intake is not from a salt shaker on the table.

• Approximately 70% of our salt (sodium) intake is from processed and restaurant food.

• Our bodies are made of just under 1% salt, and salt is necessary for regulating both blood pressure and volume.

• Too much salt causes extra blood volume in your blood vessels, which then creates high blood pressure.

• The recommendation for daily sodium intake is a maximum of 2300 mg (milligrams). While this may seem like a lot, it is easy to exceed this number through our daily diet. For example, a
small dill pickle has about 300 mg of sodium. A half cup serving of boxed macaroni and cheese has about 450 mg. Two slices of bacon have about 300 mg.

• According to the American Heart Association, reducing sodium intake to less than 1500 mg would reduce the incidence of high blood pressure by 25%, saving over 25 billion dollars in health
costs. To reduce salt/sodium intake:

• Eat a diet that is primarily whole foods-fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

• Strictly limit processed foods and restaurant meals. Read all labels and find products with reduced sodium.

• Finally, prepare foods with limited to no salt, leaving the salt shaker in a cabinet rather than on the dining room table.

Limiting salt intake is a step everyone can take for better health.