Is Salt Bad For You? This Study Found Some Unexpected Benefits

Ad failed to load

For many of us, a meal just doesn't taste right without an ample dash of salt to boost the flavor. But is salt bad for you? While it's true that there's plenty of evidence that not overdoing it is in our best interest, for all the negative press around this natural mineral, a recent re-examination of research has actually found some unexpected benefits to consuming it.

Of course, there's a lot of research showing that consuming salt in excess is not great for the human body. It can make us hold on to water, especially in the abdomen and cause bloating. The extra water in your blood is also known to raise blood pressure, which, in turn, places greater strain on your heart, arteries, kidneys, and brain, leading to an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, dementia, and kidney disease.

How does all that happen? According to the Harvard School of Public Health, our kidneys typically struggle to keep up with excess sodium in the bloodstream. The buildup of salt encourages the body to hold onto water, which can both bump up the amount of fluid surrounding cells and create a higher volume of blood in the bloodstream — which then means additional work for the heart and added pressure on our blood vessels. And honestly, most of us are probably eating too much salt; The Harvard School of Public Health notes that Americans consume on average about 3,300 mg of sodium per day (three quarters of which comes from processed foods), even though according to the American Heart Association, most adults should limit their salt intake to 1,500 mg per day.

Ad failed to load
Giphy

But although all of that is true, it turns out that there might be a good side to salt as well. A series of studies led by kidney specialist Dr. Jens Titze is rewriting the narrative the mineral, suggesting that our bodies can actually benefit from it in several different ways.

For the studies, which are published in two papers in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, Titze collected data between 1994 and 2006. He analyzed both the diets of Russian space crew members and mice, and what he found challenges a lot of what we think we know about how our bodies process salt. The first study found that the Russian space cadets, who were held in conditions designed to simulate space travel, reported that eating more salt actually reduced their thirst (rather than heightening it, as many of us probably would have suspected it would have), but also made them hungrier.  The second experiment, meanwhile, related to the mice: According to the results, the rodents burned more calories when they consumed salt. Indeed, they even had to consume 25 percent more food in order to keep their weight the same.

Ad failed to load
Giphy

Titze believes that the  hunger effect in the space cadets was a result of an increased number of glucocorticoid hormones, which are said to impact metabolism. His findings confirmed that this hormone level increased as salt intake increased, breaking down fat and muscle and allowing the body to create its own source of water. Breaking down fat burns energy and therefore made the space cadets feel hungry.

Nor is Titze's research the only one that suggests we reconsider how we look at salt; 2015 study from Emory University in Atlanta also found that excess salt might not be linked to increased cardiovascular disease or heart failure as previously thought.

Ad failed to load

Salt actually has a pretty interesting history. It was used as a part of ancient Egyptian religious offerings, on top of having been a valuable commodity in trading for Phoenicians and the Mediterranean empire, which existed around 1200 BC. Sea salt company Salt Works' online history of the mineral notes that the word “salary” was even derived from the word “salt" — salt was actually given to Roman warriors as special rations, called "salarium algentum,"  just as money is used today. Who knew, right?

In any event, more research will definitely need to be carried out to unravel all the mysteries salt has stored away in its crystals. Looks like we'll have to take it all with a pinch of the white stuff in the meantime.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Everything Leaving & Coming To Netflix In March, So You Can Plan Your Next Marathon Now

Even though the groundhog saw his shadow — forecasting six more weeks of winter — a nice spring thaw is already on everyone's minds. Fortunately, Netflix has things squared away for March. Whether you're ready to cozy up in front of a fire or get you…
By Sophy Ziss

11 Thoughts That Mean You’re Not As Happy With Your Partner As You Might Think

Even if your current dating situation seems to be going well — you're hanging out, having fun, having sex, etc. — it's still possible that you might not be happy with your partner, and thus not truly happy in your relationship. This can be a gut feel…
By Carolyn Steber

25 Book Recommendations From Your Favorite TV Characters

Although the two may seem like natural enemies, the truth is, television and reading are a match made in bibliophile heaven. Not only are some of the best shows based on or inspired by literature, but whenever you turn on the tube you can be sure to …
By Sadie Trombetta

It Took Heather Graham YEARS To Make A Movie About Women Ditching Toxic Men. The Reason? Men.

They say you should write what you know. But in Hollywood, that age-old advice apparently needs an addendum: Write what you know — as long as men are into it. And for actor and newly minted director/screenwriter Heather Graham — a woman who swam thro…
By Kelsea Stahler

Bustle's Editors On K-Beauty + McDonald's

If you're a glass-half-full kind of person, you're probably rejoicing over the fact that the week's more than halfway over. And if not, keep your chin up. I've got some insane Fashion Week and McDonald's news to hold you over. So, without further ado…
By Melissa Mills

7 Signs Your Energy Is Closed Off To Love, According To A Psychic

Finding love requires more than just the actions of going on dates or setting up an online dating profile. It also requires opening yourself up to love and giving off the vibe that you're open. You may not even realize it if you're energetically bloc…
By Suzannah Weiss

Target Just Launched A Gorgeous New Home Brand — And Most Pieces Are Under $30

Design lovers rejoice! Everyone's favorite store for pretty much everything is about to make all your daring decorating dreams come true. Today, Target's corporate blog issued a press release that provides a peek into Target's new homeware line, Opal…
By Callie Tansill-Suddath

17 Brilliant Ways To Support Parkland Survivors Wherever You Are

Following the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, survivors are demanding Congress take action. A large group of students who survived the shooting are opposing politicians' "thoughts and prayers," arguing that inst…
By Sarah Beauchamp

Here's Where Your Next Trip Should Be, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

If you've been craving a vacation, now is a good time to take the plunge. According to data collected by travel site Expedia, late winters and early spring are pretty much the best times of the year to go on vacation. Based on average airfare ticket …
By Callie Tansill-Suddath

How This Quadriplegic Beauty Lover Beat Cancer & Became A Professional Makeup Artist

In 2010, one day before she was supposed to start cosmetology school, Steph Aiello was involved in a car crash that left her paralyzed from the waist down with limited ability to move her hands and one of her closest friends dead. She would spend the…
By Sara Tan

7 Common Marriage Rules That Aren't Good For Relationships

When it comes to marriage, everyone loves to give their two cents, and with all the warnings and advice floating around out there, no wonder people find marriage intimidating. Luckily, you don't always have to play by the rules, and there's some bad …
By Carina Wolff

The Infuriating Way Hollywood Movie Sets Are Designed To Make Life Harder For Women

Whitney Cummings is fed up — with the way Hollywood treats women, and in particular, the way the it treats female directors who have children. While the entertainment industry may be working hard to get more women behind the camera, Cummings wants to…
By Casey Cipriani

Why Uggs Are Never Going Away, Whether You Like Them Or Not

Uggs. The word alone can conjure up memories of teenage years, regrettable outfits, and undeniable comfort. But if, like me, you thought that you've already said goodbye to those fleece-lined tan boots, you can think again. It seems fashion has adopt…
By Lauren Sharkey

Netflix's New Romantic Movie Will Have You Crying Like It's 'The Fault In Our Stars'

Cancer movies are a heartbreaking staple of Hollywood and have been for decades. It's almost a law of nature: new year, new cancer movie. This year, it's Netflix's Irreplaceable You, a heartbreaking original about a longtime couple who get thrown for…
By Olivia Truffaut-Wong

I Got A Breast Reduction & It Was About So Much More Than The Size Of My Boobs

As a young teenager, I pretty much reached peak physical maturity overnight. One day I was wearing my first training bra a la Lizzie McGuire, and the next I was sweatily fumbling around a Victoria’s Secret with 32DD boobs, trying to summon up the cou…
By Sierra Taylor Horton

Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu Have Matching Tattoos & The Story Is So Cute

Olympic season gives people the feels. From those shipping Canadian ice dancing pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir to Shaun White's gold medal win on Tuesday, the feels are real. Now, there's another reason to get all up in your emotions. Adam Rippon a…
By Shea Simmons

A New Study Says Being In A Relationship Could Change Your Taste In Wine — Here's How

I’d be willing to bet that for many of you, a nice bottle of wine is awaiting you in your near future — and if you’re planning on sharing that bottle with a partner, there might be more to your choice than meets the eye: According to recent research,…
By Lucia Peters

Carrie Brownstein On Why Even The Obama Era Should Have Enraged You

An icy January morning soon after Hollywood's show of solidarity for the #MeToo movement at the Golden Globes and almost exactly one year into the Trump Administration feels like a momentous time to be sitting across from Carrie Brownstein. The Sleat…
By Samantha Rollins

Here’s What The Upcoming Year Of The Dog Means For Your Chinese Zodiac Sign

On Feb. 16 the world will celebrate the Chinese New Year, welcoming the Year of the Dog in like the good doggo it is — we hope. A new year means new zodiac predictions for the 365 days ahead. So, what does the Year of the Dog mean for your Chinese zo…
By Brittany Bennett

7 Signs You're Ready To Get Into A Relationship, According To Experts

It can be difficult to tell when you're ready to start dating again. Maybe you're coming off of a bad breakup, maybe you've just been focused on other things. And, ironically, one of the signs that you're ready to be in a relationship is that you're …
By Lea Rose Emery

The 15 Best Fiction Books Of February Feature Tons Of Extraordinary Women

When the cold winds of February blow in, there's nothing I want more than to hide under my covers with a good book. Luckily, there's more than a few fantastic new fiction books coming out this month, so the only tough decision you'll have to make is …
By Melissa Ragsdale