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This Is What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Too Much Salt

There is no denying that salt has the ability to enhance the flavors of food, and often people crave something that is salty. According to Cargill, salt has the ability to stabilize flavors, counteracting bitterness and balancing the sweetness. The problem is, many Americans consume too much salt and have a high-sodium diet because they eat processed and convenience foods—including cold cuts of meats, bread and rolls, soups, cheese, and snack foods.

The body does need salt (salt is made up of 40 percent of the element sodium) as it helps with “fluid balance and muscle and nerve function,” Medical News Today notes. This is necessary for the function of vital organs such as the kidney, the heart, and the liver. And PopularScience notes that chloride, which is also found in table salt, can help with digestion.

Too much salt, or too little, can be problematic. The daily-recommended value of sodium for adults is less than 2,300 milligrams, the FDA states. But, what happens when your body has too much sodium?

According to Heart.org, excess sodium in the bloodstream “pulls water into your blood vessels, increasing the total amount (volume) of blood inside them. With more blood flowing through your blood vessels, blood pressure increases.” Over time, high blood pressure can damage the blood vessel walls or stretch them, causing a plaque blockage. The pressure also affects the heart, which is required to work harder to pump the blood.

Although the body is able to regulate the amount of sodium it needs (by causing thirst and then expelling the excess through urine), Medical News Today notes that too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, kidney stones, and even cardiovascular disease and stroke. Popular Science also notes that individuals with high-sodium diets tend to urinate more, resulting in a loss of calcium. If the body loses too much calcium, it could affect the bones and teeth.

Low sodium levels are equally problematic, resulting in a number of health problems including heart failure, blockage in the small intestine, muscle twitches and seizures.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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