Salt occurs naturally in many of the foods we eat, but humans add more -- plenty more. Salty is one of the basic tastes perceived by the taste buds, and it can work in conjunction with sweet and sour tastes to bring new dimensions to the flavors in food. Eating too much salt may eventually hinder your body's ability to get rid of the excess, though.
Like dependence on alcohol or cigarettes, there's a psychological -- as well as a physiological -- component to salt addiction. You crave salt in your diet because it tastes good, and that pleasurable feeling reacts with the reward center of your brain, making it hard to control your salt consumption, even when you realize you should. It gets worse. After ingesting too much salt, your kidneys try to dump the excess through your urine. When your kidneys can't keep up, plan B is to store the surplus salt between your cells for a while. If you're a chronic salt abuser, your kidneys may never catch up. This leads to problems like potassium deficiency, water retention, high blood pressure and even congestive heart failure.
If you're in the habit of throwing salt around your dinner plate and snacking on pretzels, chips and other salty munchies, face it -- you're probably a salt-aholic. Try to start cutting back now, and in the meantime, eat a banana or two a day. Bananas help neutralize some of the negative effects of excess salt in your system by replenishing your body's stores of potassium.