Salt Awareness Week runs within the month of March and is aimed at informing people about the dangers of over consuming salt. This is due to the fact that there is evidence that links salt with raised blood pressure and stroke risk.
Most people consume more than the recommended amount of daily salt intake, and this increases risk for certain health problems.
Firstly, let’s look at what the recommended amount of intake is. For adults, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends the intake of less than 5g – which is just under a teaspoon per day. For children between the ages of two and 15, it is recommended that the amount is adjusted downward based on their energy requirements, while babies under a year old should have less than 1g of salt daily – this is because they are getting the required amount of minerals from breastfeeding or formula.
The reason for these recommendations is that children who have high salt diets are twice as likely to develop high blood pressure as those who have low salt diets.
Don’t get confused
Salt and sodium are not the same. Although they are often used interchangeably, sodium is a natural mineral in foods or added during manufacturing. Salt is actually a combination of sodium and chloride in a ratio of 40 to 60. For this reason, when looking at food packaging, salt is actually 2.5x the sodium amount.
What diseases or disorders are linked with high salt intake?
There are a number of diseases linked with the consumption of too much salt. This includes strokes – due to the high blood pressure risk factor.
Coronary Heart Disease is another, along with stomach cancer as salt can damage the lining of the stomach and make it vulnerable.
Kidney disease is linked to high salt intake as it can cause too much calcium being excreted, while it can also disrupt the function of kidneys.
How to manage your salt intake:
This can be extremely difficult, as majority of the sodium consumed comes from processed foods or restaurant meals. Because it is already added to the food before we buy it, we often lack control of how much is used. However, being more conscious of this will allow you to change routines.
Be sure to check food labels for sodium content when shopping and compare it to other options so you can identify products that have low to medium sodium levels.
Secondly, do some research on foods that are commonly high in salt. This list includes the likes of bacon, bread, cheese, ham, prawns, salami stock cubes, soy sauce, gravy and a whole lot more.
Lastly, be more conscious of the amount of salt that you opt to use while cooking. Some people make a habit out of adding salt when there is not really a need to. Instead, try using fresh herbs and spices to add taste to bland items. Also try making your own gravy instead of using stocks or granules sold at shops.
These simple changes can have a major impact on your salt intake going forward.