Craving salty snacks? Here's why

Do you find yourself reaching for potato chips or pretzels in the afternoon? Food cravings -- like a hankering for something salty -- are one way our bodies communicate with us. And salt cravings can be a clue that your body isn’t getting what it needs.

Our bodies actually need salt: the right type and amount stabilizes our electrolytes, lowers stress, and improves brain function.

What Can a Salt Craving Tell You?

You’re dehydrated.

Aim to drink about half of your body weight, in ounces, of spring water each day. For a 140-pound person, that’s 70 ounces. If you tend to crave salt in the afternoon, try drinking more water in the mornings. Why spring water? It has the best electrolyte value because it comes straight from an aquifer; that means it retains beneficial minerals. Electrolytes are important because they help regulate how and where fluids are stored and distributed through your body.

You’re fatigued or stressed out.

The right amount of salt helps soothe the adrenal glands and lower the stress hormone cortisol. And when your stress levels are under control, your metabolism hums along more smoothly. Your body is more likely to burn fat as fuel rather than store it on your hips.

Settling Salt Cravings

Before you make a beeline for the nearest can of Pringles, ask yourself if you've been drinking enough water. Try upping your intake to meet your ounces-per-day goal.

Consider adding a bit more salt to your diet. Celtic salt and Himalayan salt have the best electrolyte value among the various types (you can find them in health-food stores and online). If you can't find those, go for sea salt. Sprinkle a bit of salt on an apple or melon slices, or even just place a pinch on your tongue.

Do you still have the munchies? Try whipping up a batch of satisfying kale chips or try pickles--they're salty and crunchy and fine for all three phases (be sure to choose a brand with no added sugar).