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Eight ways to stay away from the ‘extra salt’ in your diet

Have you ever wondered why junk foods are so tempting? Added Salt and sugar make it even tastier. Salt enhances the flavor of the food; it is one of the essential ingredients. But the amount of salt we consume daily is far more than the daily requirement.

Chemically salt contains sodium and chloride. Sodium is essential for our bodily functions. Sodium is required to regulate blood volume; it helps muscles to contract and nerves to function. However, too much salt isn't good for health.

Signs which show you are consuming too much salt

· Urge to urinate frequently

· You always feel thirsty

· Puffy eyes or ankle

· Headache

· Muscle cramps

· Weak bones

· fatigue

· Excessive craving for salty food

What are the harmful effects of high sodium?

High salt intake can cause increased blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, stomach cancer, etc.; it also causes fluid retention (edema). So how much salt is too much?

World health organization (WHO)recommends that consuming < 2 grams/day sodium (5 grams/day salt) reduces the risk of heart disease, hypertension, and stroke.

Roughly one teaspoon of salt contains 2 grams of sodium (equal to 5 grams of salt).

If you have hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease, or diabetes, limit sodium intake to <1.5 grams/day ( roughly ¾ teaspoon of salt)

However, athletes require more salt than the general population as they sweat out sodium during their workout sessions.

A survey on salt intake was conducted in rural and urban India; it included 1395 people. It showed that salt consumption was above the WHO recommendation of 5 grams/day.

Food rich in salt:

75-80% of the salt we eat is present in the processed food.

· Canned food

· Pickles

· Bread

· Sandwiches

· Pizza

· Cheese

· Soups

· Chips

· Burgers

Measures to cut down salt in the diet include

1. Limit processed food (junk foods): junk foods are high in calories and low in nutritional value. It also contains salt, fat, additives, preservatives, coloring agents, which causes an array of health issues. Limiting junk food will bring down your salt intake.

2. Avoid canned and pickled food: they contain salt to extend the shelf life of food.

3. Use food products that display low sodium tags: while you shop for groceries, make it a point to check the ingredients on food packs. Also, note the quantity of salt per serving. Prefer food containing less salt. Check for color code labels- green means low salt.

4. Food cooked at home is way healthier than fast food. Hence, make a conscious effort to cook whenever feasible. You can try out some healthy, simple recipes too.

5. Add less salt in your cooking; initially, it may taste bland, but eventually, you and your family will get used to it.

6. You can enhance the taste of food by adding herbs, spices, and lemon juice.

7. Consume whole food more.

8. You can include more fruits and vegetables in your diet. They are rich in potassium, which helps the kidneys to work better and control blood pressure.

How does consuming salt impact the elderly?

It is observed that the incidence of hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease, dementia, and stroke increases with age.

Consuming less salt will benefit you in the following ways:

· controls blood pressure

· decreases the load on the kidney

· decreases dementia and stroke

how does salt consumption affect kids?

Kids who consume more salt tend to develop high blood pressure in adulthood. High salt is not suitable for their heart health too.

A study was conducted in Japan to evaluate the nutritional quality of kids' meals in the restaurant; it showed high salt and fat content.

Making changes in your kid's dietary choices starts from your kitchen. Replace junk food with healthy snacks that contain whole grains, proteins, less salt, and less fat.

Should you avoid consuming salt completely?

You should consume salt in moderation to be healthy, as sodium is necessary for bodily functions.

Key take away points.

· Consume whole food.

· Increase fruits and vegetables in your diet.

· Do not season your salads with salt.

· Get accustomed to adding less salt while cooking.

· Think before you say, 'Could you pass the salt please.'

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