by Marshaneil Soumi D' Rozario | 22 Mar 2018
The awareness of the ill effects of salt consumption has increased lately due to the salt awareness week. Ironically, still a large part of the public is unaware of its cons. People who are aware try to cut down on salt but many foods still have lots of hidden salt in them - even foods that don't necessarily taste salty. We all have a responsibility to read the labels and choose foods with less salt but it is also much harder to eat less salt when eating out in restaurants and ordering takeaway .In this regard, Dr Vinitha Krishnan, Clinical Nutrionist of Fortis Malar shared her views :
What’s the daily limit for salt consumption?
There is nothing ‘excess’ in salt consumption. It depends on individuals. Theoretically, a normal person can take 5 to 6 gms of salt per day. The climatic conditions also determine the salt intake. In India, the intake can be to 10 to 13 gms for an average adult. This is especially applicable to people who are always exposed to sun, athletes, IT professionals in general.
What are the ill effects of consuming too much salt?
There is a lot of water retention due to salt. Especially people on diet should avoid salt. It leads to fluffiness of body. Second risk is hypertension, it is directly associated with salt consumption. If it is a predisposed condition, which runs in the family it can lead to hypertension. People suffering from kidney disease should be on a guard. Excess salt can reduce the function of the kidney. Liver disease can also occur due to hypertension. In that case the salt intake should be reduced.
For an Indian diet what is the average salt consumption like per day ?
There is no measurement available to judge the intake of salt. We need have a conscious look on how much of salt we take. If you are exceeding than take 10 to 15 gms in summer and 5 to 8gms in winter. We need to take precaution on a daily basis.
What is the source of hidden salt in diet?
The sources of hidden salt in diet should be looked upon . All of us should be educated about hidden salt. One should look into the labels, which contains information about added salt, sodium . Some of the sources are :
Dried Salted fishes
Products soaked in brine
Anything which is preserved is sodium or potassium based. Products, which comes in packages or cans apart from vacuum package, has sodium. One should look into the sodium level behind the packet or canned product. Accordingly subtract sodium from your diet. In case you do not take into account the hidden salt intake in your diet. It keeps accumulating in your routine diet. It can unknowingly increase your salt consumption. It leads to a number of diseases.
How can I cut back on salt?
Cutting back on salt is not an absolute necessity. In cases of extreme tiredness, lethargy, lack of concentration the salt intake should not be slashed. For professionals like athletes, gym goers the salt consumption needs to be more.
In case of cutting back on salt . One should use 5 to 6 gms of salt, approximately one teaspoon per day. Try not to exceed that, this is the measurement. This is not always required by normal people but people suffering from hypertension, kidney disorders. An ideal advice to them would be,one teaspoon in the morning and make portions of five packets in the day. By which they would not exceed yet get their required sodium content. Let them read the labels to know the measurement of salt. In case they find in too technical, avoid using packaged or canned product. They should restrict the salt intake in sub sequential meals.
Are there other types of salt that we can use?
There is different variety of salts. Initially, there was a lot of goiter everywhere people did not live near the sea so government introduced iodized salt to be included in a diet. Iodized salt is synthetic sodium chloride with iodine mixture. When they say ‘salt free’, it actually means that the salt is modified in such a way that it does not absorb water. It is better not to take iodized salt in a regular basis. Recent studies say that high blood pressure etc is due to this kind of salt . It is advisable to consume natural salts like rock salt, sea salt, Himalayan salt. These kind of salt has natural kind of minerals in the form of micro nutrients. It protects people from hypertension. One can try using the mixture of both if you are concerned about iodine or natural salts.
What is your suggestion on salt awareness week?
Parents should teach children of a low salt diet, from the beginning. They will get used to the particular level of salt intake. Same applies to sugar as well. Take the salt required, not excess salt. Salt is definitely required for normal functioning of the body. It should be used in moderation and in adequate quantity. Do not try to abuse it.
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