Why You Need to Moderate Your Salt Intake

It is definitely the medical consensus, that excessive salt in the diet is linked to hypertension. It is particularly of concern for people in the over 65 age group. The problem with hypertension is that it is a risk factor for heart disease, strokes and chronic kidney disease. A major public health concern is that people are unaware of exactly how much salt they are consuming because it is an ingredient in all kinds of processed foods.

It is estimated that 80% of our salt intake goes unnoticed in the store-bought groceries and drinks we all rely on. Your taste buds will not detect the added salt in everyday foods such as, bread, pretzels, pizzas, salad dressings, most cheeses, even muesli bars, tinned tuna, candies, and macaroni cheese. Of course many products are promoted on the basis of their saltiness, such as, peanuts, chips, popcorn, pickles and bagels.


Foods to Avoid

If you can change what you eat, away from snack convenience items, you may also change the habitual drinks that are consumed with them. High sugar content sodas, cokes and beers are the natural accompaniment to those hotdogs, chips and fried chicken. But think of the boost you are giving to your healthy dieting and weight loss program when you switch to water, tea and skimmed milk to go with the greens and the oven fish or white meat.

Too many of our children and young people are old before their time, because of the lifestyle induced conditions that are a disease of our consumer habits. This means hypertension (raised blood pressure), type 2 diabetes and excess body fat. Salt laden snacks and sugar and calorie loaded drinks are big contributors to these health problems.

Consequences of High Sodium Intake

An abnormal salt intake may lead to the body retaining fluids and excessive urination. It is also a culprit in causing calcium deficiency through urination, and this can lead to brittle bones and eventual osteoporosis.

Of course, salt is an essential part of a healthy diet, but we only need 6 grams at day the most. This is around half of a teaspoon. Cutting salt to this level can cut points off anybody’s blood pressure readings. Five points off the top reading when the heart contracts and 3 points off the bottom reading when the heart is relaxed between beats.

In truth too much salt also deadens our taste buds to subtle flavors. With time and familiarization our sense of taste will become more discerning and we grow to appreciate unsalted natural flavors more. The addictive aspect of salt also lessens with time and controlled quantities.

Medics recommend an number of practical things to achieve lower blood pressure. Firstly be aware of your salt intake and cut back wherever you can. Do not habitually put salt on your table and food before you have tasted the dish. Work towards more ‘real’ food (less than 5 ingredients on the label) and eat lots more greens and fruit. Shop first in the fresh produce aisles at the supermarket and plan your meals well in advance.

Read the ingredient levels on food labels. Rinse off the sodium in canned goods. Choose the ‘lo-salt’ options. Cut down on ham, bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and sandwich slices. Build fiber into your meals, but be aware that whole-grain bread is heavy on sodium.

Claire Al-Aufi

Claire Al-Aufi is a contributing author for Hive Health Media who provides updates on health and fitness news.

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