What would gravies, sauces, French fries, potato chips or junk food and even your breakfast cereal be without salt? Pretty bland, wouldn’t it? Generally, salt adds up flavor to almost all the food that we eat everyday, making the taste better, especially the processed foods available in the market nowadays.When asked to cut down on our salt intake, most of us would turn a deaf ear, only to regret later when we start feeling the effects of long-time excess salt the body. But it is never too late to start changing your salt-intake habits so let me share to you some facts that can help change your view.
Salt contains two minerals (called electrolytes), sodium and chloride, which is both essential for the human body to function well. These electrolytes are compounds that carry an electrical charge and can therefore conduct electricity needed in generating nerve impulses in the body. Sodium and chloride works together along with other electrolytes like calcium, potassium and magnesium and takes part in maintaining the body’s hydration status, fluid balance, acid-alkaline balance and nervous system functioning.
When taken in just the right amounts, our body has its own way of regulating sodium and chloride. It is usually expelled when we urinate but when collectively having an excess intake of it, you give your kidneys too much work to handle and in the long time run, your kidneys start to malfunction and encounters difficulties. As vital as it is, only a very small amount of salt is needed by our body everyday. The upper limit for daily consumption of salt is just around 2,300 milligrams and this amount is lowered down to 1,500mg for those aged 51 and above, and 1,000mg for children.
Excess intake of salt has been claimed in the medical field as a risk factor for several medical conditions like high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack, and and also kidney problems.
Currently, people, especially those in the health profession are doing efforts to raise the awareness of the public to help leading a more healthy lifestyle among individuals. They put emphasis on food industries to cut down the salt content in their food products–processed foods, thereby helping by lowering it at the source before reaching the consumers.
By being aware of the sodium levels in your diet, you are helping yourself lower the risk of having high blood pressure, heart and kidney problems and certain types of cancer in the future.
Let me share to you five tips that can help you lower you intake of salt in the diet.
- Read the label! — it won’t hurt to check on the label before buying. Look for foods labeled “low sodium”, “reduced sodium” or “no salt added”. For processed foods, if there is no available “low/reduced sodium content” available, you can rinse before cooking it to remove some of the salt content. But remember, it would be better if you can cut down on processed foods.
- Instead of using preservatives/additives when cooking, you can try different herbs and spices, garlic, or lemon juice to flavor your food.
- As much as possible, lower the instance of eating at fast-food restaurants. Or you can tell your waiter to lower the salt content on the food you’re going to order.
- Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits as they are all naturally low in sodium.
- You always have the best option–to cook at home! When you make your own meals, you can control how much salt you are adding, and you can always pick more healthier ingredients to add up to your dish like fruits and vegetables.
Just like everything else, salt has its own uses and risks.. Too little of this can be just as bad as too much so take everything in moderation. So, whenever given the chance, I hope that you remember this simple message that is definitely the most effective among the five tips, “Please, don’t pass the salt, pass on it!”
Happy eating! 🙂
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