Most of the salt we eat every day is hidden! Roughly 80 percent of the salt we eat is hiding in processed foods like bread, biscuits and breakfast cereals, and prepared ready made 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 0.3g salt or less per bOg of food, that’s low sodium, and you can eat plenty of these.
- It is says 0.3 to 1.5 g salt per 100 g of food, that’s the medium level. Eat small, amounts of this occasionally.
- If it screams 1.5 g salt or more per 100 g of food, that’s high sodiuml Avoid completely.
That’s not 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. The trick is to take the advice with a pinch of salt.
- Eliminate sodium choloride while cooking and definitely, don’t add more while at the table. Don’t let the common salt to be so common.
- 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 minimize the use of ‘fast foods’ and processed meals, many of which have high sodium content.
- Recognize the sodium content of some antacids and proprietary medications.
High sodium intake is quality 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 high BP is to eat less salt.
- Reducing sodium intake by about 1.8gm/day lowers systolic blood pressure by about 4mm Hg and diastolic pressure by 2mm Hg in hypertensive patients.
- Sodium reduction, alone or combined with weight loss, can lower the incidence of hypertension by about 20%.
Data from the trails 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 persons.