“Everything in moderation” — we’ve heard it before, and it is a constant battle cry for healthy eaters. But when it comes to salt and sugar, we fall weak. Though both play an important role in our health regimens — sugar for energy and salt for muscle contraction — an array of health problems arise when taken in excess. Which has a greater impact? Let’s talk about it below.

Salt is essential for the human body to conduct electrical charges between cells as well as regulate fluids. And while the negative effects of sugar are slowly becoming widely understood, the affects of salt are more debated. For a long time people considered sodium intake to heavily influence the buildup of pressure in blood vessels, resulting in high blood pressure. Yes, uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to a series of major health issues, however the link between salt and those issues may no longer contribute as heavily as people once believed.

Some studies say that the link between both are overstated and more complex than we once thought. According to Texas-based registered dietitian Kaleigh McMordie the underlying problem with excess salt is that a significant amount of it is from restaurant and processed foods rather than our salt shakers at home. She says that “these foods are typically also higher in fat and calories, and provide fewer nutrients than fresh foods prepared at home”. Results of these preparations include unhealthy weight gain and high blood pressure.

When it comes to sugars, those that are naturally-occurring, often found in fruit and milk, are not apart of the problem. Such sugars contain healthy nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Soda and sweet tea beverages, on the other side of the sugar spectrum, provide little to no nutrition. The same can be said for most on-the-go snacks that we’re constantly surrounded by. Once again, the overconsumption of these unnatural food items are what leads to obesity and health deficiencies.

The consumption of excess sugars can be very serious. Such overconsumption may lead to type two diabetes as well as a change in the bodies metabolism resulting in high levels of inflammation. Rachel Head, a certified diabetes educator says, “certain kinds of sugar molecules, called fructose, are only processed by the liver. When the liver is overwhelmed by processing too much fructose, a metabolic chain reaction can occur, with several studies linking this reaction to increased risks of abnormal cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.”

So the real question — which is worse, salt or sugar?
While neither are particularly more dangerous than the other when consumed in moderation, when put head-to-head at it’s lowest point, excess sugar has a higher negative impact on our health. While salt is a necessary factor for the body to properly function, sugar is not. To ensure your proper intake of salt and sugar, focus on the sources from which you are receiving them. Stick to whole grains, milk products and fruit. Here at My Menu, we’re all about food; but we’re also all about staying healthy, active and aware.