A Pinch of Salt
A pinch of salt in moderation, adds flavour to your life. In excess, can rob you of it, elaborates Dr. J. K. Padhi.
High sodium intake is guilty of many ills, including heart disease. However, rigid degrees of sodium restriction are not only difficult to achieve but also may be counter productive.
Low sodium, low BP
The current international guidelines call for less than 2.5 gm sodium intake per day. That’s 6 gm of sodium chloride – about one teaspoon of table salt. Most of us certainly overshoot that.
- Sodium reduction is useful for everybody. It is a partial therapy for the hypertensive, and a preventive measure for those whose Blood Pressure (BP) is normal.
- One of the quickest ways to lower your high BP is to reduce your salt intake.
- Reducing sodium intake by about 1.8 gm/ day lowers systolic blood pressure by about 4 mm Hg and diastolic pressure by 2 mm Hg in hypertensive patients.
- Sodium reduction, alone or in combination with weight loss, can lower the incidence of hypertension by about 20 percent.
- Data from the trials in the elderly shows that a reduced salt intake, with or without weight loss, significantly reduced blood pressure, and the need for anti-hypertensive medication in older individuals.
Read the Food Label
Most of the salt we eat every day is hidden. Roughly 80 percent of the salt we eat hides in processed foods like bread, biscuits, breakfast cereals, and pre-prepared ready-to-eat meals. The salt we add while cooking or at the table constitutes only 20 percent of our total sodium intake. The trick is to read the label on these packaged foods properly.
- If it reads 0.3 g salt or less per 100 g of food, that’s low sodium, and you can eat plenty of these.
- If it says 0.3 to 1.5 g salt per 100 g of food, that’s the medium level. Eat small amounts of these occasionally.
- If it screams 1.5 g salt or more per 100 g of food, that’s high sodium! Avoid completely.
We do not mean to say that sodium is completely bad for you. In fact, sodium plays an important role in maintaining the body’s fluid balance. An adequate amount of sodium is essential for muscles and nerves to function properly.
4 Salty Tips
- Eliminate sodium chloride while cooking, and definitely don’t add more while at the table.
- Switch to a pure potassium chloride substitute, or a half-sodium chloride and half- potassium chloride preparation, like Lite salt. (Tastes salty, without the sodium)
- Avoid or minimise the consumption of ‘fast foods’ and processed meats, many of which have high sodium content.
- Recognise the sodium content of some antacids and proprietary medications.