Salt has served humankind as the number one preservative and flavouring agent for thousands of years. It is also a texture enhancer. If salt has served us for this length of time, why are we having this conversation about reducing salt intake?
According to the world health organization, an estimated 1.13 billion persons worldwide have hypertension. It is considered a leading cause of premature deaths worldwide accounting for about 7.5 million deaths every year. What makes it even more disturbing is that signs and symptoms are not noticeable, and a person may live with it for years without knowing, but the result could be devastating. No wonder it has been dubbed a silent killer.
As you will agree, anything that takes over 7 million lives every year is what considering. High consumption of salt has been linked to this disturbing statistics. Other factors include being overweight, high caffeine intake, physical inactivity, eating food high in saturated and trans-fat, high cholesterol, consumption of tobacco and excessive use of alcohol. And for some, it could be hereditary, but a healthy diet can help.
For this post, I will talk on one of the risk factors, salt.
Salt, as we know it, contains sodium and chlorine used to balance body fluids, nerve impulses and muscle contractions. Salt is also a binding agent and a colour enhancer.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2300mg or one teaspoon a day. However, it also says that 1500mg or three-quarters of a teaspoon is the ideal. Many consume twice the recommended ideal of about 3500mg daily!
The very high consumption of salt has contributed to a great extent, the exceptionally high incidence of high blood pressure (hypertension), stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, kidney stones, stomach cancer, osteoporosis to name a few.
Lifestyle changes could save millions annually.
One of these changes is to reduce your salt intake. For many, it could mean cutting salt intake by half.
1500mg of salt is one-third of a teaspoon.
2300mg of salt is just over a teaspoon. Aim to eat less than 2300mg but not more than.
Some think getting kosher or Himalayans salt mean they reduce the risk of high blood pressure. Salt is salt as long as it contains sodium, stay withing your recommended limit. However, according to the Blood Pressure UK, low sodium alternatives that contain potassium instead of sodium could lower blood pressure.
Research has revealed a higher incidence of high blood pressure in people of African-Carribean origin, than in other races, leading some to conclude that it might be genetic. Making this group more vulnerable and calling for stonger measures to curb this epidemic. One thing we do know, however, is that a high salt intake makes hypertension worse. So, if you belong to this group aim to stay within 1500mg or a third of a teaspoon each day. You need to plan ahead to make this happen.
We may not be able to control our genes, but we can certainly control what we eat. Start the new year by reducing your salt intake to no more than one teaspoon of salt the entire day. For some, that may be a drastic change. Why not start by cutting down to about a third of your present salt intake. Then, slowly work your way to what the recommended.
Salt is highly addictive. You might crave salt when it is missing, or lower than usual for you. Meals may taste very bland. However, persist in making small changes every day, and you will win the battle. Try the following:
Check out herbs and spices you could use to flavour your food below. They are spices that are used extensively on this site and found in many parts of the world.
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