You should never overdo it with salt, even if you have normal blood pressure or even for short periods of time. In fact, our body can react with an exaggerated increase in blood pressure, which can put health at risk. A very recent scientific research, published by researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, has managed to explain this mechanism, tracing it to an increase in inflammation levels that can be observed even in those with normal blood pressure (Pitzer et al, Circulation Research, Jul 2022). But let's understand better.
Salt, blood pressure and guidelines
Hypertension is a dangerous condition that increases the risk of cardiovascular and kidney disease. Salt is certainly one of the main causes of the increase in blood pressure. According to the World Health Organization, to preserve health we should not take more than 5 grams of salt per day, which corresponds to 2 grams of sodium, which is the main constituent of table salt and which is also attributed to the harmful action of excess salt on the body. Unfortunately, globally, daily salt consumption can reach as much as 10 grams per day. From here we understand that salt is indeed a threat to the health of the heart, kidneys and blood vessels. But how does the salt work inside our body?
That's why you should never eat too much salt, the study
To answer this question, the American scientists of Vanderbilt University have developed the study we are talking about today. Scientists started from the consideration that, after consuming even one meal with added salt that exceeds the recommended daily levels, in 50% of hypertensive people and in 25% of people with normal blood pressure levels an excessive response of the organism in the form of a significant increase in blood pressure is observed. This increase in blood pressure can, in some cases, endanger the health of the heart. Therefore, this means that there is some change within the organism that is observed in some people and not in others, capable of explaining this sensitivity to salt. The study was carried out in the laboratory and made it possible to observe that the sodium contained in the salt stimulates the activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome, which is a multi-protein complex. In turn, this inflammasome stimulates the release of pro-inflammatory substances to which the increase in blood pressure is linked. So, this is what happens in our body after a salty meal in the presence of salt sensitivity. It is noteworthy that the removal of this inflammasome also eliminated the sensitivity to salt with subsequent increase in blood pressure.
The study opens the way to new and important scenarios that will allow, in the future, to assess personal sensitivity to salt and thus the actual cardiovascular risk. While waiting for science to take its course, it is important to understand that consuming even just a meal to which salt has been added in an amount that exceeds 2 grams of sodium per day can, both in the presence of high and normal blood pressure, significantly increase blood pressure with consequences that can be, as the study authors themselves indicate, the sudden onset of heart attacks and strokes. Therefore, it is important never to overdo it with salt, prefer natural flavors and, in case, opt for alternatives to refined salt, such as sea salts and spices. Unprocessed salts, such as sea salt, have a lower sodium intake as they also contain other minerals such as magnesium and calcium sulphate, potassium and calcium chloride. Spices, such as chilli, garlic, turmeric, pepper and basil help flavor the dish and do not make you feel the lack of salt, as well as provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substances!