Need for Salt Intake Reduction – Aliu Yakubu
The acquired taste of salt has made it a must-have-condiment in food. Salt is sometimes found naturally in some foods, while it is artificially added to others either as a preservative or flavour.
Salt consists of about 40% sodium and 60% chloride. The human body requires sodium for proper nerve and muscle functions, as well as water and mineral balance. It is a known fact that urbanization has a huge influence on our dietary lifestyle. Easy access to processed food is fast becoming alarming.
However, the reverse is the case for fresh vegetables and fruits. And this has adversely influenced what we consume now. These processed food products contain a large amount of salt. As they are widely consumed, people inadvertently take in more salt than the daily requirement. Despite the known benefits of salt, excessive consumption of it is detrimental to the body.
This is fast becoming a major public health issue and society must be enlightened about it. Also, it is important to note that according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the recommended daily salt intake for adults is less than 5g (just under a teaspoon) of salt equivalent to 2 grams of sodium daily. While in children, it is recommended that they consume even less than that per day.
Studies have shown that the majority take in more than twice the recommended daily consumption. It is difficult to ascertain the amount of salt consumed daily as most food items do not have a dietary label and for the few that has, people don’t even pay attention to it.
Below are some of the health effects of excessive salt intake.
Short term• Water retention may result in puffiness and swelling of the extremities.
•A temporary rise in blood pressure, common in individuals that are salt sensitive.
Long term effects: High consumption is a risk factor for the following disease;
•High blood pressure•
Tips to reduce salt intake;
•Use salt alternatives such as onion, garlic, herbs, spices, vinegar
•Salt shaker should not be put on dining tables at home/restaurants.
•Reading food labels before buying to determine the salt content.
•Foods could be roasted, grilled, braised to bring out their natural flavour instead of adding salt.
•Salty snacks consumption should be avoided
•Educating the populace on the need to adopt a low salt diet.
•Restaurants and catering services should be compelled to indicate the amount of salt added to the food.
For more information:https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/salt-reduction