It’s a mineral substance composed primarily of sodium chloride (NaCl), a chemical compound belonging to the larger class of ionic salts.
It is essential for animal life. Though salt is present in most foods, it is naturally present in small quantities in foodstuff such as meats, vegetables, and fruits. It is often added to processed foods to make their flavour more appealing and it’s also present at higher levels in preserved foods. The main sources of salt in food diets, apart from direct use of sodium chloride, are bread and cereal products, meat products, and milk and dairy products. Only about 6% of the salt manufactured in the world is used in food. Of the remainder, 12% is used in water conditioning processes, 8% goes for de-icing highways, and 6% is used in agriculture. The rest (68%) is used for manufacturing and other industrial processes. While people have used canning and artificial refrigeration to preserve food for the last hundred years or so, salt has been the oldest and best-known food preservative, especially for meat, for many thousands of years.
The World Health Organization (WHO) generally recommends that people reduce their dietary intake of salt, because of the associated risk of stroke and total cardiovascular disease.