The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends limiting salt intake to no more than five grams per person per day, which is just one level teaspoon or less.
Why should we care?
Eating too much salt is linked to raised blood pressure, which may eventually lead to hypertension.
Hypertension makes us vulnerable to having a stroke or suffering heart disease.
The South African Demographic and Health Survey 2016 reported that 46% of women and 44% of men age 15 years and older have hypertension.
Five ways to achieve five grams or less
In honour of World Salt Awareness Week (12 to 18 March), the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa (HSFSA) shares five simple ways to get your salt intake down to five grams or less.
1. Cut down gradually
Gradually add less salt when you prepare your favourite recipes – your taste buds will soon adapt.
2. Be creative with flavours
Use herbs, spices, garlic, ginger, chilli and lemon to flavour foods, rather than adding salt.
3. Check food labels
When shopping, check food labels to see how much salt in added. To help you identify foods with the lowest amounts of salt, look out for the HSFSA’s Heart Mark logo. The highest amounts of salt are in: processed meats, cheeses, bottled sauces and condiments, tinned foods, fast foods, savoury snacks, and commercial cereals and breads.
4. Remove the salt shaker
Take salt and salty sauces off the dinner table to help you break the habit of adding salt to food. This also helps ensure that younger family members won’t develop the habit of adding salt to food.
5. Eat more fresh fruit and veg
The minerals in fresh fruit and veg, whole grains, lentils, beans, and low-fat dairy all help to lower blood pressure. Remember to drain and rinse canned vegetables and beans, as they are usually packed in brine.
Set the tone at home
What we feed our families now can influence their health in years to come. Ideally, we should be encouraging our children to adopt healthy habits.
“Healthy eating habits should be reinforced at an early age, during the period that babies and young children are developing their sense of taste and food preferences. Adults who are influencing the eating habits of young children, therefore, have the responsibility to ensure low-salt meals are prepared or purchased,” says Prof Pamela Naidoo, CEO of the HSFSA.
Get your blood pressure checked FREE OF CHARGE!
It’s recommended that all adults test their blood pressure at least once a year since up to 50% of South Africans with high blood pressure remain unaware of their condition.
You can get your blood pressure measured free of charge from 16 March to 8 April at all Dis-Chem in-store pharmacies nationwide.
For more information, visit www.heartfoundation.co.za or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter using #5ways5grams.
Source: Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa
While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.