Don’t take it with a pinch of salt | The Financial Express

Don’t take it with a pinch of salt

Salt isn’t unhealthy unless you eat too much of it. But here’s the deal

Don’t take it with a pinch of salt
Most sodium consumption also comes from salt added at home in cooking and at the table or through condiments such as fish sauce and soy sauce.

We all know the importance of salt and how much it adds to the taste of our day-to-day food items. However, too much of it can be a problem, too. And it’s not just an occasional bag of chips or a slice of pizza that’s the issue. If data from various countries are to be believed, people across the world are consuming much more salt than is recommended.

In many high-income countries, approximately 75% of salt in the diet comes from processed foods and meals prepared outside the home. Most sodium consumption also comes from salt added at home in cooking and at the table or through condiments such as fish sauce and soy sauce.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the amount of dietary salt (sodium chloride) consumed is an important determinant of blood pressure levels, hypertension, and overall cardiovascular risk. A salt intake of less than 5 grams (approximately 2g sodium) per person per day is recommended for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, the leading cause of death globally.

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Decreasing dietary salt intake from the current global levels of 9–12 grams per day to the recommended level of less than 5 grams per day would have a major impact on blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, averting up to 2.5 million deaths due to heart attacks and stroke worldwide each year, say reports.

Mumbai-based Dr Manan Vora, orthopaedic surgeon, sports medicine expert and a content creator, says, “Salt is not just a condiment that adds flavour to food, it is an essential mineral that plays an important role in health at large. All salts are essentially sodium but based on how they are produced and fortified, the quantity of other minerals present differs greatly.”

According to Vora, table salt, the most commonly consumed salt, is a mixture of sodium and chloride. It is bleached during processing, hence devoid of any trace minerals. However, it is fortified with iodine, which is important to prevent goiter.

“Sea salt is coarse in texture as it is minimally processed, it has natural iodine and more trace minerals as compared to table salt. Pink salt or Himalayan salt is considered the healthiest, because of the large amounts of more than 84 trace minerals present in it, it is unprocessed, and also contains iron. Based on mineral content and processing, kosher, grey, black, and lake salt are other types of salts available,” adds Vora.

It is evident that with the advent of organic lifestyle, different types of salts have become increasingly popular, with producers claiming a variety of health benefits, attached to heavy price tags. “While all these have different textures or tastes, salt’s hygroscopic nature remains the same and high salt consumption can result in water retention in the body,” says Ushakiran Sisodia, head of diet and nutrition, Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital, Mumbai.

Sisodia warns that due to high sodium content, any individual suffering from complications of kidney, heart, liver or hypertension cannot consume salt, irrespective of its type. There are no widely accepted scientific studies that prove specific salt types are better or more nutritious than others. If there are any comorbidities or lifestyle disorders, one should control your salt intake, regardless of its type.

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First published on: 27-11-2022 at 02:45 IST