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Weekly column by Ministry of Health Be careful of too much salt |11 December 2021

You know by now that the advice we give you in our ‘Eat for our health’ campaign is meant to help you stay healthy, and not spoil your eating fun.

We start off this way this week because we're heading into the Christmas season and some timely reminders are important to help you do the right things.
A lot of eating and drinking gets done over the festive season so it's only reasonable that we remind you that moderation is key.
So this week we caution you about salt (commonly known as table salt), and we'll tackle the other red light - sugar - next week.
To start off it is important to note that although the terms salt and sodium are sometimes used interchangeably they have different meanings. Salt, known chemically as sodium chloride, is a crystal-like compound whereas sodium is a mineral which is also one of the elements found in salt. Sodium is commonly used in the food industry for the processing of many foods.

Salt makes our food taste better and more flavourful, but like many things, too much salt isn’t great, especially for our health.
Overconsumption of salt and sodium is often linked to one of the biggest killers – cardiovascular disease – and much of it is hidden in the foods we love such as snacks and highly processed foods.                      

So in order to stay healthy you need to know a few simple truths, and pick up a few simple habits.

Use salt in moderation
Eating too much salt can contribute to high blood pressure, which is linked to conditions like heart failure and heart attack, kidney problems, fluid retention, stroke and osteoporosis. But it also has important functions in the human body.
Your body uses salt to balance fluids in the blood and maintain healthy blood pressure, and it is also essential for nerve and muscle function. So you need it, but in very small amounts therefore use it in MODERATION.
It is therefore important not to over-salt your food when cooking, and very important to check the salt and sodium content of labels of packaged foods.
Try to aim for items that have less than 120mg of sodium per 100 grams of the food. Also check the ingredients list. If salt or sodium is listed among the first ingredients, it means the product is high in sodium. You should aim for a maximum of 2000mg of sodium (less than 1 teaspoon of table salt) a day.

Beware of the salt hype

You might have seen some varieties of salt advertised as having extra health benefits that regular table salt doesn’t, like containing minerals that are good for your body. Beware of these claims for the minerals found in these salts are often present only in very small amounts.
Himalayan salt, sea salt, rock salt, black salt, pink salt, unicorn salt – in the end, it’s all still salt. Upping your salt intake to try and get the benefits of an advertised mineral might lead you to consume far too much salt, putting yourself at risk of disease.
If you’re looking for a great way to get healthy minerals and other nutrients in your diet, fruits and vegetables are a great source of these.                                              

The tongue can be trained
Good news for those who think they’re naturally a salt eater – the taste for salty foods is learned, rather than built in.
It’s possible to retrain your taste buds to like foods with less salt in them, it’ll just take a little time.

Some useful tips
1. Eat mostly fresh food instead of processed food which tend to be high in added salt.

2.  Choose packaged and canned foods labelled ‘no added salt’, ‘low salt’ or ‘salt reduced’.

3.  Shop with extra care. Compare similar packaged foods by looking at the food labels and choosing the item with less sodium.
4. Try to swap processed meats for fresh chicken or canned tuna (in spring water) or leftover meat from your last meal.

5. Use small amounts of sauces with a high salt content such as soya and oyster sauce in cooking. Avoid adding in extra salt when such sauces are used.
6. Flavour your cooking with a variety of herbs and spices.
7. Avoid putting the salt shaker on the dining  table.
8. Whenever you think your food may need a little more salt, tell your brain it's ok......and it will slowly get used to it. Try it!

Keep tabs on your blood pressure

Most people with high blood pressure don’t display any symptoms, so it’s important to get your blood pressure checked regularly.
If you do have high blood pressure, reducing salt, along with getting regular physical activity, moderating alcohol intake, quitting smoking and reducing stress, might help manage it, reducing the risk of further damage to your body.
It’s possible to retrain your taste buds to like foods with less salt in them, it’ll just take a little time.
We will be back next week to guide you towards Christmas.

Meanwhile don't forget to check out our Facebook page – Eat for our Health Seychelles – and our Instagram page – Eat4ourHealth – for more updates and tips.
Manz byen!


By: GP in collaboration with Nutrition unit, Health Care Agency

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