October 16, 2021

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Less salt is the way to health

Credit: Nicole Craine for the New York Times.

People are getting tired of the warrants. The US government has turned its attention to sodium (salt). It has published guidelines for restaurants and food companies on how much sodium they should put in their foods.

Following the guidelines is voluntary.

Salt is at the root of many diet-related diseases. America has a love affair with salty foods. It is the reason why so many people have high blood pressure. This leads to heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure. More than 4 in 10 American adults have high blood pressure. Six out of ten black adults have high blood pressure.

A large amount of salt comes from processed and packaged foods. Restaurants are also guilty of serving too much salt.

The guidelines say that a healthy diet should contain no more than 2,300 milligrams of salt per day.

The link between hypertension and severe disease is strong. One study claimed that reducing salt intake by one sixth of a teaspoon would mean one million fewer strokes and heart attacks per year.

Another study in China showed that using salt substitutes would reduce cardio events.

Most Americans consume a third more than the recommended amount of 2,300 milligrams of salt per day. The recommended amount for people with high blood pressure is 1,500 milligrams per day.

How Much Salt Does Your Body Need? Experts say only 220 milligrams per day.

The human diet is naturally low in salt. Our bodies store salt and get rid of potassium. The body retains excess salt. High-salt diets are an obvious problem.

Salt preserves before refrigerators existed. It was valuable enough to be a currency. Now, doctors agree that people should consume less salt.

Getting the food industry and consumers to use less salt is not easy. But at least, consumers can look at food labels to see how much salt is in the foods they buy.

Some food companies are trying. Campbells canned tomato soup lowered sodium from 760 to 480 milligrams per cup. Nabisco has cut the sodium in Wheat Thins from 370 to 180 milligrams per ounce. General Mills reduced the sodium in Wheaties from 370 to 185 milligrams per ounce.

Companies claim that cutting down on sodium in their products works best when they don’t advertise it. They say most people don’t notice the change.

Experts say don’t try to get rid of all the salt at once. Consume it less. Do not put salt in food while cooking. You will use less salt after cooking. Citrus juices, chili flakes, and other herbs and spices can make up for less salt.

The biggest problem with salt is in restaurant food. Some think that voluntary guidelines will not be enough.

Source: The New York Times, 11 October 2021

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