Why too much salt is bad for your health and what to do about it ?

Accuracy score :
97%

Introduction

Salt is not bad for health. However, the excessive intake of sodium-containing salt, also called sodium-chloride, could have a negative impact on the cardiovascular system, especially when combined with a low intake of potassium. Today, most of the people consume about twice the recommended amount worldwide. Salt reduction on its own is a cost-effective way that could prevent 2.5 million deaths globally.

Risks related to high sodium intake

  • High blood pressure, especially when combined with a low intake of potassium which tends to decrease the blood pressure.
  • Increased risk of stroke, heart disease and heart failure.
  • Increased risk of kidney disease.

Examples of food high in salt

Meat and seafood: anchovies, bacon, ham, prawns, salami, salt fish, smoked meat and fish.

Vegan sources: olives, salted and dry-roasted nuts, soy sauce, pickles, stock cubes.

Other non-vegan sources: cheese, stock cubes, yeast extract.

How to avoid eating too much salt

  • A healthy adult should take no more than 5g salt /day (≈ 1 teaspoon). This is equivalent to 3g of sodium/day and regroups any food source, including processed food and junk food. In fact, processed food count for 80% of the sodium daily intake in several countries, while the natural amount of salt in food is about 10% and the amount we add while cooking or eating is about 5-10%.

Salt reduction could be achieved through:

  1. Avoiding adding salt to food when cooking and while eating
  2. Checking the amount of sodium in processed food and selecting products lower in sodium (e.g. unsalted snacks).
  3. Replacing salt with other spices and herbs for a better taste and flavour.
  • An increased potassium intake helps to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. This could be achieved by eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.

Conclusion

The global recommendation for healthy adults is to not exceed 5g of salt/day (≈ 1 teaspoon).

References

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/salt-reduction

https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm181577.htm

https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/healthy-eating/food-and-nutrition/salt

https://www.cdc.gov/salt/index.htm

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/salt-nutrition/

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