Sunday, 22 April 2012

So What’s The Big Deal With Salt?

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The big deal is that we all eat too much salt. 

Salt can increase your blood pressure.

Salt in large amounts can therefore lead to hypertension.

Hypertension is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, including stroke, heart failure and renal insufficiency.

Reducing your salt intake can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Can I get you to eat less salt now?

Did you know that almost 1 in 3 people suffer from high blood pressure around the world?  We may actually be putting ourselves at a disadvantage every time we buy a pre-packaged meal or a takeaway meal on the go.  Worse, several studies have also linked high salt intake to stomach cancer.  In women, high salt diets may also drive your risk of osteoporosis; the bone thinning disease.

So it’s truly time to take action.  Of course I am not suggesting that you stop eating out completely, but you will need to give salt some consideration.

It’s not always salt that you add to cooking that’s the culprit.  The hidden sources in food are also to be blamed.  Perpetrators are cheese, baked beans and other canned foods, smoked meats or fish, processed meat like sausages, bacon and ham.  Other sources include soups, breakfast cereals, pizza, breads or crisps.  I bet you have no idea how much salt there truly is in some of these foods as not all even taste salty.

Sauces like soy sauces on the other hand do taste salty, but what about that innocent pre-packaged ‘healthy’ sandwich you buy for lunch daily?  What do you cut out first?

Let’s start with things that we can change.  You certainly cannot change the amount of salt added to breads and cereals, but if you buy lunch daily then why don’t you take left-overs for lunch instead?  Or try to prepare your own sandwiches.  Skip the cheese and choose tuna tinned in spring water instead of brine.  Choosing stronger flavoured cheese also helps, as you usually need a much smaller portion for flavour.

Always choose brands that offer a reduced salt variety.  I am not asking you to read labels for salt; in fact, for the general healthy population, this isn’t always necessary.  Just by reducing the frequency of consumption of high salt foods, you will be well on your way to reducing overall intake.

Remember freshly prepared foods will always boast little or minimal salt as long as you don’t shake that salt shaker like mad above the saucepan.  We also know that fresh cuts of meat prepared with fresh herbs will beat any processed or smoked competition.  Especially when it’s your heart we’re talking about. 

What with studies declaring that even Japanese men with high salt intake are likely to have high blood pressure, clearly no one is immune.  It’s definitely time to get cracking on our salt intake. 

The good news is you really don’t need to turn your kitchen upside down, just few small changes is all it takes.  I am going to focus on buying smoked fish only once every couple of weeks instead of weekly.  What change will you make?

Please comment below, I really look forward to and love, read all of your comments!