Salt: what's all the fuss about?


LIFESTYLE NEWS - Did you know that in South Africa, 1 in 3 people 15 years or older have high blood pressure (HBP), and up to 50% of them people don't even know it? HBP is defined as a blood pressure of 140/90 or higher over time.

Salt increases your blood pressure, and this can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Your body needs only a small amount of salt (also known as sodium) to function normally, and the World Health Organisation recommends that adults limit their intake to no more than 5g salt (or 2 000 mg sodium) per day. This totals roughly 1 teaspoon of salt from all our food sources. On average however, most adults in South Africa consume between 6 and 11g of salt per day.
Only about 10% of this salt is from the actual table salt that you add to your food during cooking or at the table.
Another 15% occurs naturally in foods such as celery, beetroot and milk, and then up to 75% of salt is found in the processed foods that we buy such as bread, gravy powders, stocks, canned foods, processed meats, brick margarines, pasta sauces, breakfast cereals and even cheddar and other hard cheeses.
The food industry adds salt to our foods to improve taste and texture, and to act as a preservative so that the foods can have a longer shelf life. Luckily for us, a new law was passed in South Africa in June 2016 that calls for the salt content in many commonly eaten foods such as bread, breakfast cereals, potato crisps and processed meat to be reduced.
Our top 3 tips for reducing your salt intake:
1) Read your food labels and pay attention to how much salt (or sodium) is in the various foods that you regularly use at home.
2) Flavour your food with lemon, chilli, herbs, ginger and garlic instead of defaulting to salt.
3) Choose fresh ingredients to prepare your meals at home from scratch, and use fewer ready-made foods.
Article by Dr Androulla Philippou  

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