Which is worse: high salt or high fat?

Do you ever question what’s healthier?

Some people don’t know where to start when it comes becoming healthier.

Is it more important to choose organic foods or more produce? Is being fully raw the best option or is being low-fat more important for health? Is being fully vegan or being whole-food, plant-based more important for optimum health? Will clean eating or more exercise result in greater weight loss and a healthier body? Which is more important to cut out of diet: salt or fat?

Fortunately, the answers are here. I’ll supply the answers for all your burning questions about which is better for you: “this” or “that”.

High Salt or High Fat

The standard American diet (SAD) is one of the unhealthiest diets in the world. Two large problems are the amount of added salt and fat to the diet.

Both salt and fat have detrimental effects on health and wellness. Individuals seeking to be healthier should severely reduce or eliminate added salt and fat to the diet.

Which one is worse for health? Which should you cut out first if you’re looking to transition to a more wholesome and healthy diet?

Here are the pros and cons for a high salt diet.

Added salt is a problem in the US

Pros for high salt Cons for high salt
  1. Salt alone won’t cause heart disease, the number one killer in the United States
  2. Will not add excess calories to the diet
  3. Can be added to vegetables to encourage vegetable consumption
  4. High salt can be partially combated with higher potassium intake
  5. Salt contains iodine, which is an essential nutrient lacking in some heathy diets
  1. Causes water retention. This leads to hypertension, stroke, osteoporosis, kidney disease, enlarged heart and headaches
  2. Can cause individuals to overeat food
  3. Lowering sodium will decrease risk of coronary heart disease
  4. High salt diets damage the kidneys
  5. Studies show individuals who don’t reduce sodium are more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, heart surgery or have died of cardiovascular disease

There are the same number of pros as cons about high salt.

The main benefit of a high salt diet over a high-fat diet is that it won’t cause significant weight gain. Salt doesn’t have any calories and doesn’t contribute to calories for the day.

Negative side effects of salt can be reduced with high potassium and high water intake. This means the negative effects can be subdued. Fat has nothing that will decrease its effects on the body.

The most significant downfall of salt is that it’s linked to many chronic diseases. Heart attacks, strokes, hypertension, osteoporosis and kidney disease are all linked to high salt diets.

Another major downfall of high salt is it can still cause you to gain weight. Salt can cause individuals to overeat and store water weight.

Below are the pros and cons for a high fat diet.

Is eating high fat worse for your health than eating high salt?

Pros for high fat Cons for high fat
  1. Trying to reduce fat by opting for low fat packaged foods is often worse. They may end up containing trans fats, the worse type of fat
  1. Causes more ailments than salt like obesity, heart disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, etc.
  2. The body does not run off of fat, it runs off of carbs. High fat diets can cause lethargy
  3. Fat is more easily stored as body fat than carbohydrates are
  4. The majority of fat sources are paired with cholesterol
  5. Extra fat affects how the body uses insulin, which can mess up hormone levels and lead to more weight gain
  6. High amounts of fat negatively impact liver function and health

There’s a small benefit to a high fat diet: not eating “low fat” foods. Low fat foods tend to have added fillers and sugar. The product has fewer calories from fat. Yet the product tends to have the same amount of calories because more sugar is added in to boost the flavor.

The detriments outnumber the pros. High fat diets are associated with many common chronic diseases common in society. High fat diets cause heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

High fat diets also limit the amount of energy your body has. Those who eat high fat diets must convert fat into energy usable by the body. It’s more difficult for the body to use fat as energy than carbohydrates.

A third major concern with a high fat diet is associations with fat intake. The fattiest foods are animal products. Animal products naturally contain saturated fat, trans-fat and carcinogens.


The road to a healthier diet includes restricting added salt and fat to the diet. Both sodium and fat can be addictive. Weaning off of either of them can be difficult.

However, eating high amounts of salt is more acceptable than eating high amounts of fat. It’s not really a matter of choosing which one is better for you, but choosing the lesser of two evils.

With all its negative effects, salt can be used to add flavor to foods that are otherwise healthy. Salt doesn’t add any calories to a meal and doesn’t change the nutritional density of a meal.

Fat is fat. “The fat you eat is the fat you wear.” Eating a high fat diet has a greater likelihood of significant weight gain. Fat in itself is more likely to cause weight gain because it contains calories. Salt doesn’t.

If you want to start eating healthier, I suggest adopting a nutritionally-dense diet. If extra flavor is needed, add salt to the diet. Overeating carbohydrates is okay to an extent. The body uses more energy to convert carbohydrates to body fat than fat to body fat.

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Salt versus Fat ~ Carob Cherub | Which is worse for your health: high salt or high fat? See the pros and cons of each. Learn what's best for your body and health.
  • Updated a couple of years ago
Sara Binde

Sara is a health and nutrition coach. She advocates for a whole foods plant-based lifestyle and teaches the world how to achieve weight loss.