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How Does Too Much Salt Affect Your Health?

By August McLaughlin

Salt is a prime source of sodium -- a mineral that helps your body maintain fluid balance, relax and contract its muscles and transmit nerve impulses. On average, Americans consume 3,400 mg of sodium daily, according to MayoClinic.com, an amount that far surpasses the American Heart Association's recommended 1,500 mg per day. Eating more natural foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and fewer canned and processed foods may lower your risk for numerous health conditions.

Cardiovascular Risks

A major concern associated with a salt-rich diet is the impact it can have on your blood pressure, which is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the level of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. A high-salt diet can increase your blood pressure, elevating your risk for heart attack, stroke and heart disease significantly. If your blood pressure score is 120/80 mmHg or higher, your doctor may suggest a low-salt diet or avoiding salt altogether, according to the American Heart Association.

Water Retention

Eating too much salt can also trigger or worsen water retention, or bloating -- a condition in which fluid gathers in your abdomen or other body areas. Cutting back on salt, on the other hand, can help alleviate water retention, according to MayoClinic.com, including symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome.

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Vertigo

Vertigo is the sensation that you or your surroundings are spinning. If you are prone to vertigo, salty foods may offset the fluid levels in your ears and body, according to the Vestibular Disorders Association, increasing your likelihood of experiencing vertigo and related symptoms, such as tinnitis -- the perception of ringing in your ears.

Migraines

Migraines are severe, recurrent headaches that may also cause light sensitivity, nausea, vomiting and vision problems. Although moderate salt intake is unlikely to cause migraines, according to the University of California-Berkeley, consuming salt in excess may contribute. In addition, numerous salty foods fall among the list of common migraine triggers, including cured, canned and processed meats, canned soups, bouillon, seasoned salt, macaroni and cheese, cheese sauces and pizza.

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