Salt, a preservative and flavor additive
Sodium chloride, most commonly known as salt, is a key component of almost every food or dish. It adds flavor to food and also functions as a preservative. Bacteria cannot survive with high concentrations of salt. In the body, sodium helps conduct nerve impulses, contract and relax muscles, and balances water and minerals.
But too much of anything is a bad thing. An excess of sodium can result in high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. In addition, kidneys have a hard time managing sodium in the blood. And as sodium collects, the body retains water to dilute it, leading to an increase in the amount of fluid in the cells as well as the volume of blood in the bloodstream.
This increased blood volume makes the heart work harder and exerts more pressure on blood vessels. This extra effort can cause the vessels to stiffen, resulting in high blood pressure and other fatal conditions.
Unprocessed foods have low sodium content. Inversely, tops sources of sodium are bread, pizza, sandwiches, cold cuts, savory snacks such as chips, popcorn, pretzels, chicken, cheese, and eggs. Too much sodium in the blood, called hypernatremia, which causes severe dehydration among other things, could also cause difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, extreme thirst, confusion, and kidney damage.
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