(Super)taste for salt can kill

2018-03-14 06:01

Salt accounts for many deaths in South Africa and puts more at risk of heart diseases and strokes.

The more salt people consume, the higher the risk becomes.

Annually, the lives of approximately 78 475 South Africans are lost as a result of a high salt intake.

This is according to research done by the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences in America.

If you are among the many South Africans that find themselves reaching for the salt shaker at every mealtime, there might be more to your urge than just a bad habit.

The findings suggest that people who tend to salt their food more can be named “supertasters”.

People classified as supertasters are those whose sense of taste is heightened due to the TAS2R38 bitter taste receptor gene.

According to the research, South Africa’s discretionary salt consumption sits at 41% a day, which may indicate that many South Africans have been dealt the supertaster gene.

In most other Westernised countries, the discretionary use of salt is in the region of 15%, pointing to a more neutral sense of taste.

Despite being the biggest provider of cardiovascular medication in South Africa, Pharma Dynamics promotes prevention over cure.

Nicole Jennings, spokesperson for the health firm, says that even though modern medicine can help patients to manage symptoms, it is important to tackle the root of the problem.

“If we are to curb the growing number of diseases, such as high blood pressure and heart disease, we must aim to change our lifestyles.”

Experts estimate that limiting salt consumption could decrease 11% of deaths caused by heart disease per year and save the South African government in the region of R713 million per annum in healthcare fees.

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