Myths surrounding salt being bad, less consumption of salt helps in weight loss

ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi
Jun 23, 2022 07:49 AM IST

Is salt is an unnecessary ingredient in the diet? Going low on salt can help lose weight? Can we do without any salt in our diet? Nutritionists bust myths surrounding salt and differentiate health facts from fiction 

Salt is important for taste and it is no secret that food without salt is tasteless nor can one cherish food without salt but it is also believed that salt is out to kill and we shouldn’t be eating any of it. Although it is true that excess of it can contribute to hypertension, fluid overload, cardiovascular disorders and osteoporosis, it is underestimated that salt is one of the most important nutrients required by the body as it helps with balancing fluids in the body, maintaining healthy blood pressure and essential for nerve and muscle function.

Myths surrounding salt being bad, less consumption of salt helps in weight loss (Artem Beliaikin)
Myths surrounding salt being bad, less consumption of salt helps in weight loss (Artem Beliaikin)

To help debunk some common myths surrounding salt being bad, we got two nutritionists on board to help bust salt myths and differentiate health facts from fiction. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Kavita Devgan, Nutritionist at Tata Salt helped answer:

Myth 1: We can do without any salt in our diet

Fact: Salt depletion in the body (which can also happen during sweating, persistent vomiting or diarrhoea especially in hot weather) may lead to fatigue, dehydration, low blood pressure, muscle cramps and weakness in muscles. So never go very low on salt. In case of high blood pressure, reduce the sodium intake. You can switch to low sodium salt which is formulated to provide 15% to 30% less sodium than refined iodized salt.

Myth 2: Salt is an unnecessary ingredient in the diet and can be dispensed with

Fact: A little salt (sodium chloride) is essential in diet, as it operates our brain cells, regulates the water balance in the body, keeps muscles functioning and is needed to conduct nerve impulses. According to WHO, salt fortified with iodine helps reduce the risk of IDD (iodine deficiency disorder).

Myth 3: Going low salt can help you lose weight

Fact: Having salt in excess can lead to water retention in the body and may lead to weight gain, but cutting it off can only help reduce water weight by causing some quick water depletion from the body, and not lose any fat weight.

Adding to the list, Dr Varsha Gorey, Consultant, clinical nutrition at Apollo Hospitals in Navi Mumbai, shared:

Myth: Salt being bad and less consumption of salt helps in weight loss

Fact: Salt doesn’t really help in losing body weight. Chemically salt is sodium chloride (NaCl). It helps meet the electrolyte requirement of our body. Maintaining sodium levels in an optimum range of 130 to 140 mEq/L is essential to prevent hyponatremia (indicates low levels of sodium in the blood). However, its requirement varies from person to person. Apart from that, salt also helps to meet major iodine recommended dietary allowance (RDA) daily through iodised salt.

Salt is hygroscopic in nature and has ability to retain water. When there is less consumption of salt, this ability of retaining water is lost and one may feel weight loss but this is false weight loss and key to weight loss is losing fat and not water. So, rather than restricting salt, one should cut down on processed and refined foods such as namkeens, bakery products and junk food which are hidden sources of salt.

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