Tuesday, 21 March 2017

World Salt Awareness Week : “The Forgotten Killer”

With the consumption of processed foods at an all time high,  most of us surpass the RDA of salt before even adding it to our food.

The theme for this year’s awareness week which is running from March 20th to 26th is “Salt: The Forgotten Killer”, which is a striking but appropriate title. WASH (World Action on Salt and Health) runs World Salt Awareness Week every year, and receives widespread support from countries all around the world. This important week serves to highlight the importance of reducing salt intake in all populations throughout the world, and all countries are invited to participate; be it holding an event, creating media interest or generating awareness within local communities.

The most severe consequence of consuming too much salt is high blood pressure as this can eventually lead to strokes,  heart attacks and heart failures. Considering that these are some of the leading causes of death globally and how our eating habits have developed, salt does not appear to be weighted an appropriate amount of caution. Food manufacturers do not add salt sparingly, and we all know at least one person who adds salt to their food before they even taste it.

Our tastebuds have grown so accustomed to the taste of salt, that we often don’t realise how high the salt content of our food is. Just yesterday, I was drinking a bottle of soda water and just happened to look at the nutritional information. I  had added some lemon and lime wedges to the one litre bottle, and was feeling very smug about my healthy tasty alternative to plain water. The 1 litre bottle in fact contained 8% of my recommended daily allowance of salt. The total RDA for salt is a mere teaspoon at 6g, however most people assume it is much more.

3 simple ways to reduce salt in your diet:
  1. Check all food labels: Salt can hide in the most inconspicuous of places, such as bread, breakfast cereals and sweet treats.
  2. Don’t add salt to your food: Obvious, however as many are oblivious to the amount of salt their food already contains, they don’t think twice about topping up with a sprinkle of salt.
  3. Find other ways to flavour food: Herbs, spices, black pepper and chilli to name a few. Life without salt does not have to be bland!

Checking labels is probably one of the most effective yet underused methods of disease prevention and adapting to a healthy lifestyle. The information is all there, however non communicable diseases which can be heavily influenced by diet are still rampant.

There is no quicker way of determining a food’s nutritional value than reading a label. Should the packaging not display this information,  search engines on the internet are quick to answer any food related questions we may ask. With healthy eating becoming such a hot topic, there is no end to the information available to us. Therefore, there are no excuses.

Also, although it requires more work, it is advisable to read EVERY label.  How many articles have you see on Hidden Salt, Hidden Fats, Hidden Calories or Hidden Sugars? These are not hidden, they are ignored.  Everything you put into your shopping basket you are putting into your body. You deserve better than to be secretly destroying your health! Next time you go shopping,  take the time to read every label. You will be surprised at what you find!

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