To Salt or not to Salt?

In recent decades, the food and beverage industry has taken advantage of the highly palatable substance that is sodium chloride also known as salt; adding just the right amount to already highly processed foods and making these foods cheap and highly accessible. In fact, research has shown that foods with the right balance of sugar, salt and fat have been found to elicit the same hyper-reactive response in the reward circuitry of the brain similar to those produced by drugs of abuse. By contrast, in some studies, prefrontal regions associated with cognitive control showed reduced activation. This can explain why you may find yourself craving and thus purchasing salty treats even if you’re not hungry.

The recommended daily amount of sodium for the general population is around 1 teaspoon (3-5g). People with health conditions such as congestive heart failure, liver cirrhosis, and high blood pressure should discuss their salt intake with their doctor or dietician. We can avoid excess sodium consumption by eating fresh, unprocessed foods with little or no added salt. It is estimated that one third of Australians consume more than what is recommended. In small amounts, salt is necessary to maintain essential bodily functions. It helps to maintain acid-base balance, and is essential to nerve impulse transmission and muscle contraction processes amongst other roles. On the other hand, too much salt may lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, oedema and other chronic diseases. Too much salt may also be associated with increased calcium excretion meaning it is necessary to lower your salt intake and ensure that you eat plenty of potassium rich fruit and vegetables as well as include low fat milk products to reduce bone loss. It is not recommended that you cut out sodium completely as you may end up missing out on other nutrients such as iodine.

If you require further information on salt intake, diet and how exercise can assist with a balanced lifestyle, please contact us at or visit our website for more information.


Nicole Barber (B.Sc. – Exercise & Sport Science)
Accredited Exercise Scientist (AES) (ESSAM)


Davis, C., & Carter, J. (2014). If Certain Foods are Addictive, How Might this Change the Treatment of Compulsive Overeating and Obesity?. Current Addiction Reports, 1(2), 89-95.


Whitney, E., Rolfes, S., Crowe, T., Cameron-Smith, D., & Walsh, A. (2011). Understanding Nutrition. [S.L.]: Cengage Learning.