The WHO recommends that a person consume no more than 2000 mg (or 2 grams) of salt a day, which is less than a teaspoon. That’s quite an impossible task for almost everyone globally has some amount of processed food on a daily basis and those are loaded with salt. Salt (like sugar) hides in everyday foods we take for granted like bread, buns, processed cheese, pasta, spaghetti, chips, and soups.
We need the sodium in salt to survive as it plays an important role in almost every part of our body. But too much of it can cause some serious grief. When we eat salt, the sodium eventually ends up in our bloodstream and tries to draw more water into our blood vessels to balance the concentration levels.
Remember that blood vessels are really tiny and too much of liquid in them can cause a lot of pressure. This pressure that is being raised is your blood pressure and that is the reason why too much salt is harmful.
Over several years, this constant surge of pressure will damage the walls of your blood vessels. Soon, plaque buildup will narrow the walls of your blood vessels forcing your heart to work harder to pump the same amount of blood.
Too much salt not only raises blood pressure, it reduces the ability of your kidneys to clear away waste from your body. It also puts greater strain on your heart and your brain leading to heart attacks, strokes, dementia and kidney disease.
So what can you do to reduce your salt intake?
Experts have some tips for you:
Increase your fresh food intake
Apples, pears, pineapples, watermelons are some low-sodium fruits that you can opt for. Okra, lettuce, cauliflower and green cabbage are good veggie options that are low in sodium. Choose fresh meat over packaged meats. Read food labels.
Use fewer sodium-overdose condiments
Ketchup, dips, salad dressings and sauces are way up there on the sodium scale.
Skip processed foods as much as possible
Go for fresh food options as much as possible. Some common everyday processed foods are packaged breakfast cereals, cakes, biscuits and soft drinks. These are things most people will indulge in on a daily basis so choose wisely.
Cut out fast food
This one is a seemingly impossible task for most people. You know all those big, chunky, cheesy burgers you indulge in, those sandwiches you salivate thinking about, the chicken nuggets, drumsticks and wings you look forward to? Salt traps, all of them. Although quicker and cheaper than other options, your body will pay the price for them.
Modern living has got us eating way too much salt, most of it without our knowledge. While salt helps us regulate muscle contraction, nerve function and blood volume, too much salt is definitely bad. Stick to the daily recommended level as much as possible and remember that salt is hidden in a lot of food like bread, breakfast cereals and frozen meals. Make the switch to herbs and spices gradually. Be mindful of what you are putting into your body.