REDUCING OUR SALT INTAKE
Salt is a white powder or colorless crystalline solid, consisting mainly of sodium chloride and used for seasoning and preserving food.
Salt is essential for animal life in small quantities, but is harmful to animals and plants in excess.
Salt is involved in regulating the water content (fluid balance) of the body.
However, too much salt intake could lead to an increase in the risk of health problems, including high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.
LEVEL OF SALT ON FOOD LABELS
The use of nutrition labels on food packaging could help us cut down on our salt intake. In UK, the Food Standards Agency defines the level of salt in foods as follows:
High is more than 1.5g salt per 100g (or 0.6g sodium)
Low is 0.3g salt or less per 100g (or 0.1g sodium)
Therefore, a medium amount of salt is between 0.3g and 1.5g
Sometimes a traffic light is used on food labels to show foods that are high, medium or low in salt. Red means high, amber means medium and green means low.
Please note that salt is also known as Sodium Chloride and might just be sodium on labels.
A daily intake of 6g of salt is appropriate for adults.
Less than 1g is appropriate for babies
2gs for ages 1 – 3years
3gs for ages 4 – 6years
5gs for ages 7 – 10years
6gs for over 11years
Therefore, information through the labels on food packaging could help us pick food brands with a lower salt option.
A lot of packaged foods already have salt in them, to control our salt intake, we could eat a small portion of these foods at a time. It is when we eat in large quantity that we might exceed our recommended daily intake.
Fresh foods have little or no salt in them.
EFFECTS OF SALT
Too much or too little salt in the diet can lead to muscle cramps, dizziness, or electrolyte disturbance, which can cause neurological problems. Drinking too much water, with insufficient salt intake, puts a person at risk of water intoxication (hyponatremia).
Stroke and cardiovascular disease
High blood pressure: Evidence shows an association between salt intakes and blood pressure among different populations and age range in adults. Reduced salt intake also results in a small reduction in blood pressure.
Excessive salt (sodium) intake, combined with an inadequate intake of water, can cause a condition called hypernatremia.
Edema: A decrease in salt intake has been suggested to treat edema (fluid retention).
In conclusion, we can control our salt intake, by being conscious of our salt consumption, by not exceeding our recommended daily intake, by comparing food brands and picking the lower salt option, and by not eating too little or too much salt.
1, Food label information, daily salt intake, and the effects of salt is taken from: NHS Choices, Salt the facts, http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/goodfood/pages/salt.aspx.
Accessed on 19/06/2011
2, The definition of salt is taken from salt site: reference.com
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