Why Is Too Much Salt Bad For You?

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A pinch of salt is an instant flavour-enhancer for food, but did you know that too much salt can be bad for your health?

Affinity Health – providers of affordable health cover for all South Africans – takes a detailed look at salt and its health effects.

The rise of processed foodstuffs has resulted in many South Africans consuming more saturated fats, trans fats, sugars, and salt than ever before.

Salt – the primary source of sodium – is bad for your health as it’s linked with hypertension and an increased risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, stroke, and kidney stones.

But how much is too much, and how can you monitor your daily salt intake without compromising on the flavour of food?

Salt (also called sodium chloride) is mainly composed of two minerals, sodium, and chloride, which have various body functions. Sodium is an essential nutrient necessary for the human body as it balances fluids in the blood and maintains healthy blood pressure. Too little sodium can lead to hyponatremia, and symptoms of dizziness, confusion, muscle cramps, and seizures.

However, many of us take in more salt than our bodies need due to a high intake of hidden salt in convenience foods.

“Health authorities recommend you consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, preferably less. This amounts to about one teaspoon or 6 grams of salt,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

“About 75% of the salt in our diet comes from processed food, and only 25% occurs naturally in foods or is added during and after cooking. If you are trying to cut back on salt, be sure to look at food labels. You want to glance at the total amount of sodium, not just hunt for the word ‘salt’ in the ingredient list.”

If you’re a true-blue salt lover, don’t despair. It is possible to re-tune your taste buds to enjoy a less salty flavour. Here’s how:

  • Choose natural foods over processed foods
  • Opt for salt-free or reduced salt products
  • Avoid takeaways and frozen foods and opt for at-home cooking instead
  • Be creative with seasoning by ditching the salt shaker for wedges of lemon or lime to add more flavour to dishes 
  • Avoid canned and pickled goods, including vegetables
  • Steer clear of commercially prepared sauces

For more visit: www.affinityhealth.co.za