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Can Salt Make You Happy?

There’s some good news about a food that’s long been chastised. University of Iowa researchers say that salt may act as a natural anti-depressant. This from the condiment that’s been blamed for hypertension. Go figure.

Tests on rats found that when there was a salt deficiency, they shied away from activities they normally enjoyed.salt

“Things that normally would be pleasurable for rats didn’t elicit the same degree of relish which leads us to believe that a salt deficit and the craving associated with it can induce one of the key symptoms associated with depression,” says psychologist Kim Johnson.

Of course, too much salt can lead to health problems like hypertension. And oh, there are signs that it’s addictive as well. I don’t need a study for that, I know from personal experience. We all know the sentiment of “craving something salty.”

A spokesman for Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), which campaigns to raise awareness about the health risks of eating too much salt, says “our bodies need a very small amount of salt to function, but nothing like the quantities that most of us eat. This research may help us to understand why some people still eat too much salt, even though they know it’s bad for them.”

“I personally have never felt depressed by not eating too much salt: I think it would be far more depressing to have a heart attack or stroke that could have been avoided by not eating so much salt.”

If you don’t have any health issues, you probably don’t have to worry too much about your sodium intake, according to the Harvard Medical school website. But for those who need to watch their intake, you should have no more than 2,300-2,400 mg per day.

(via: BBC)

March 23rd, 2009

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2 Responses to “Can Salt Make You Happy?”

Mar 23rd, 2009
9:38 pm

I love to season with salt, but I’m not sure it makes me happy. Anhedonia (losing interesting in activities that one previously found enjoyable) is only one of several diagnostic criteria necessary for a depressive disorder diagnosis. These rats certainly shouldn’t be an excuse to do something (eat too much salt) that could be hard on your body.

Rusty - Fitness Black Book
Mar 23rd, 2009
9:48 pm


I figured the negative effects of sodium were exaggerated. This is good news for me as I love salty dishes. I’m more of a salt person than into sweets. I’d rather have a bowl of cashews than a cake.