Globally, more than 1.65 million deaths happen due to excess Salt consumption. These death happen mostly from Cardiovascular diseases. Research says that salt intake of fewer than 5 grams per day is helpful to reduce blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and coronary heart attack. Hence WHO has kept the recommended daily intake of salt to Though 5 g in itself sounds to be quiet enough to make our food tasty, recent studies say that in most countries the average salt consumption is as high 9–12 grams per day.
Wondering where all this salt is coming from
It’s not the salt that you add to food you cook at home, but the salt that finds their way into our body by consuming processed foods like ready meals, processed meats, cheese, salty snack foods, and instant noodles, among others consumed frequently in large amounts, acts as a trouble maker. In addition to this salt kept on the dining table add to the woes.
So should we completely stop consuming salt?
Though excess Sodium is linked to adverse health outcomes, sodium as such is an essential nutrient necessary for the maintenance of plasma volume, acid-base balance, the transmission of nerve impulses and normal cell function.
How much salt actually should a human being consume
An adult should not eat more than 5g of salt a day.
For Children the maximum amount of salt they should have depends on their age:
- 1 to 3 years – 2g salt a day
- 4 to 6 years – 3g salt a day
- 7 to 10 years – 5g salt a day
- 11 years and over – 5g salt a day
Babies should not eat much salt, as their kidneys are not ready to process it
Babies under 1-year old should have less than 1g of salt a day.
Is Salt and Sodium same?
No salt and sodium are not the same. Sodium is a mineral and one of the chemical elements found in salt. To convert sodium to salt, one will have to multiply the sodium amount by 2.5. That is, 1g of sodium per 100g is equal to 2.5 grams of salt per 100g. So be careful while reading the labels. When you read 2.5 g sodium, that actually translates to 5 grams of salt.
Should we only consider common salt which is sodium chloride?
Sodium can become part of your daily food through any of the following products in addition to common salt. So check the labels carefully
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Baking soda (also called sodium bicarbonate)
- Baking powder
- Disodium phosphate
- Sodium alginate
- Sodium citrate
- Sodium nitrite
So how should we reduce salt intake
- Do not add salt during the preparation of food
- Include more fresh fruits and raw vegetables in your diet
- Do not keep salt shaker on the table
- Restrict salty snacks and processed foods
- Be cautious while shopping. Look for low sodium food
- Educate children from early years about the harmful effects of salt
When you cut down on your salt intake, some food would appear less tasty, but then in a matter of time, your taste buds would readjust. So don’t give up. Take it slow and get rid of excess ‘pinch ‘of salt.