South Africa is a salt-loving nation, but the experts warn that this very habit could see us kick the proverbial bucket a lot sooner than we bargained for.
Last week was Salt Awareness Week (16 to 22 March) to create awareness that salt is a major contributor to high blood pressure and is therefore indirectly responsible for many heart attacks and strokes annually. SA’s salt consumption could be as high as 40g a day, which is way above the World Health Organization’s recommended intake of less than 5g a day. When it comes to the amount of salt we add to food ourselves, it is as high as 40 percent per day compared to 15 percent in other Westernised countries.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) claims more lives today than all forms of cancer combined, and according to SA’s providers of cardiovascular (CVS) medication, medicine sales related to heart- and blood pressure conditions are at an all-time high.
Spokesperson for Pharma Dynamics, Mariska van Aswegen, says annual medicine sales for CVS conditions are sitting at R3.1-bn, about 23 percent higher than a mere five years ago. “Although there are many risk factors, our salt intake could triple our risk of developing heart disease or stroke. Our bodies need salt to function optimally, but many of us just eat too much of it,” Van Aswegen explains.
The recommended daily maximum for children is:
1 to 3 years – 2g salt a day (0.8g sodium)
4 to 6 years – 3g salt a day (1.2g sodium)
7 to 10 years – 5g salt a day (2g sodium)
11 and over – 6g salt a day (2.4g sodium)
Approximately 75 percent of the salt we eat is already in the food we buy. Foods high in salt include:
- Ham, bacon, sausages, salami and other processed meats
- Canned, packet or instant soups
- Smoked meat and fish
- Gravies, yeast extracts, stock cubes, soy sauce
- Tomato sauce, mayonnaise and other sauces
- Ready-made meals and takeaways
- Some jars/packets of cooking sauce
- Salted and dry roasted nuts and crisps.
Van Aswegen emphasises the importance of understanding the dangers of salt consumption and healthy eating part of a healthy lifestyle. “More than 80% of heart diseases can be prevented if we consume less salt,” she adds.
Check Food Labels
Some labels contain information on sodium instead of salt. To do the conversion, simply multiply the amount of sodium by 2.5.
- Foods low in salt contain < 0.3g per 100g of salt.
- Foods high in salt contain > 1.5g of salt per 100g of salt
Pharma Dynamics has put together the popular Cooking from the Heart cookbook series, with recipes that you can access for free at www.cookingfromtheheart.co.za. All the recipes have been given the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA’s stamp of approval.
SOURCE: MEROPA COMMUNICATIONS. IMAGES: ISTOCK/PIXABAY.