Salt is the heart& soul of nearly every food we love to eat, all thanks to it’s chemical nature. Salt works like that magical ingredient which has the amazing ability to intensify our taste buds.However, consumption of sodium in last few decades have gone up .
The terms salt and sodium are often used interchangeably but they refer to different things. Salt is made up of sodium and chloride and it’s the sodium in salt that is affecting your health. Sodium may not have calories, but it is not as innocent as many people think. Too much sodium can increase the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. This is cause for concern, as heart disease and stroke rates are increasing.
To reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease, its recommended for adults to eat less than 5g of salt (2000mg of sodium) a day. That’s less than a teaspoon a day.So most people try to save themselvesbyskipping the table salt. However, most of the sodium in our diets comes from packaged, processed foods. Sodium is found almost in every food we eat, but the amount varies. Foods such as vegetables and fruit have naturally occurring sodium present in very small quantities. Sodium from natural foods is essential however, what breaks your heart is the excess sodium you consume from packagedFoods.
For decades now, we have been berated by media, diet plans and even our ancestors about eating salt. Myths around sodium & salt are plenty.So let’s dig deep into the salty misconception of sodium chloride& learn the truth this World Heart Day!
Myth: Mostof our salt intake comes from the cooked food.
Butter, cheese, papad, pickles, chutney, sauces, ham, salami, soy sauce and even our beloved biscuits can be surprising salt mines. In fact, 75% of our salt intake comes from processed foods – before we even pick up the table salt.
Myth: Foods that taste salty are the only sources of more salt
Some sweet as well as non salty foods are packed with sodium.Whether it’s sweet or savory, if you are eating baked or packaged food it is likely to have a lot of added sodium. So before you pick up that chocolate cake or bread slice for an afternoon treat, think of theamount of sodium going in. Not all sodium-rich foods taste salty because other ingredients likesugar can mask the flavor of salt after mixing together. You can notice that many sauces and condiments we usually use contain high sugar content as well, therefore it is important to read nutrition label to identify sodium levels in different sauces and condiments.
Myth: My blood pressure is normal, so i don’t need to worry about how much sodium I eat.
Sodium restriction also applied to people who are healthy since hypertension isn’t the only health complication that comes with excess sodium consumption. Higher sodium intake for long term mean inviting blood pressure & other complications when we get older. Restricting our sodium intake can significantly reduce our risk of developing hypertension and related diseases.
Myth: Himalayan salt/ sea salt/ black salt/ pink salt are healthier than table salt!
While some less refined salts, like pink or Himalayan salt can have more minerals than common table salt, salt is salt, whatever the color or the source. And don’t stress out over the different kinds. In the end, they’re all sodium chloride, and choosing one over the other will not have a major effect on your overall diet.
So not shaking isn’t enough. To reduce salt in your diet it’s also important to know how to read food label, follow a diet rich in fresh foods – not processed ones, and don’t add salt at the table.
With time, your taste buds can adjust to liking less salt. Studies also show that when people follow a low-sodium diet, they start to liking it. Try it out and see for yourself. Not only that, when you use less salt, you can taste food’s natural flavor.
So empower yourself by replacing salt and getting creative with other ways to enhance the flavor of your food with natural substitutes for salt. Rather than adding salt when you cook, use lemon juice, garlic, vinegar, herbs & spices.
So what are you waiting for?Adopt a heart-healthy diet today. Start by creating a daily meal plan that emphasizes vegetables, fruits and whole grains and limits high-fat foods (such as deep fried vada, red meat, cheese and bakery products) and high-sodium foods (such as packaged or processed foods).
SKIP the Salt, Help the Heart
(Disclaimer: The writer is Rupal Shah, Dietician .Views expressed are personal opinion)