Say no to salt

By admin
16 March 2014

Be aware of how much salt you take in during Salt Awareness Week – 10 to 16 March – and see the difference in your health.

According to studies, South Africa is ranked as one of the countries with the highest rates of hypertension (high blood pressure). The consumption of salt by South Africans is double the recommended amount which should be 5 g (1 teaspoon) a day from all food sources. Unbeknownst to most of us 55 per cent of salt is stored in processed food, especially bread, meat products such as sausage and polony, and fast foods.  Dr Vash Mungal-Singh from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa says a good way to start reducing your salt intake is to read food labels carefully.  Food sources which have a sodium content of 600 mg or higher should be avoided.

The statistics:

  •  One in three South Africans 15 years and older lives with high blood pressure.
  • People older than 50 suffer most from hypertension.
  • SA’s also rated highest in the world for hypertension in people over this age.
  • About 130 heart attacks and 240 strokes happen daily in South Africa.
  • Eighty per cent of heart disease can be prevented if your salt intake is reduced.
  • Forty per cent of South Africans add salt to their meals after they’ve already used it in the cooking process.

Four tasty options for reducing your salt levels

  • Black pepper is a good substitute for salt.
  • Fresh herbs and spices add just as much flavour to meals as salt. A good sprinkle combination over fries is garlic, ginger and chilli.
  • Another option is to make your own stock and gravy by using reduced-salt cubes or granules.
  • Vegetables such as red peppers, tomatoes, courgettes and squash have their own flavour when they’re roasted or baked.

Consider the following when ordering food next time:

  • Pizzas:  pepperoni, bacon and extra cheese toppings have a high salt content; rather replace these with vegetables or chicken toppings.
  • Burgers: toppings high in salt would be bacon, cheese and barbecue sauce.  A better option would be salad or vegetables.
  • Chinese or Indian meals: flavoured or egg-fried rice should be avoided – go for plain rice and combine it with roasted vegetables.

Sources:  Dr Vash Mungal-Singh on behalf of the Heart and Stoke Foundation of South Africa (heartfoundation.co.za), www.nhs.uk

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