SALT CAN BREAK YOUR HEART
The body’s need for sodium (not the tastebuds’ need) is low – at about 5 g of Nacl (sodium chloride – or salt, as we know it) per day. This is just a teaspoon. Nacl is about 40 per cent sodium and 60 per cent chloride.
An excess of salt can contribute to hypertension, especially in those who have a genetic predisposition towards it. A gynecologist will tell a pregnant woman to cut down salt intake, to prevent pregnancy; induced hypertension, a potentially life-threatening problem that is on the rise today.
The body needs sodium to maintain its balance available from nature itself. Eggs, for instance, have 80 mg of sodium in 100 g (about 2 eggs). Now, here’s what happens when you add salt: there is 2 mg of sodium in 100 g of peanuts. When you add salt, this goes up to 790 mg!
Remember, all we need is 2 g or less of sodium a day. “Yet, most Indian households consume up to 10 gm of salt a day.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) advocates a reduction in sodium intake to reduce blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and coronary heart disease.
What we must do?
Remove salt from the table, restrict salty foods such as pickles and cheese. Be conscious of packaged and tinned foods, and keep them to the minimum. If you eat non-vegetarian foods, let it be fresh fish and meat, rather than processed meats. Be conscious about how much you are adding to a dish. Measure it out, rather than using your fingers.
Foods rich in potassium, such as beetroot, potato, sweet potato, banana, broccoli, leafy vegetables, lentils, help to balance salt intake, so it is a good idea to keep them in your diet.
Those with low blood pressure must check with their doctors about salt intake. Also, sportspeople who may be working out in hot, humid conditions for long periods, as sodium is a part of the extra-cellular fluid that acts as an electrolyte. Or those who spend long hours outdoors – at a construction site, for instance. Generally, the body does develop the ability to conserve sodium, but if you are drinking more than 3 litres of water a day and are out exercising rigorously, do check with a doctor if you need a salt recharge.
THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION (WHO) ADVOCATES A REDUCTION IN SODIUM INTAKE TO REDUCE BLOOD PRESSURE AND RISK OF CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE, STROKE AND CORONARY HEART DISEASE.