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Why Eat less Salt

Many people love to laden their food with salt, perhaps without realising how much salt is already included in their food during the production processes. Furthermore, despite the number of campaigns that have been run by various health agencies, a number of people still do not realise the harm that eating too much salt can have upon their health, or the potential health issues it can create.

Of course one has to remember that we need a certain level of salt within our daily diet because of its use in helping to maintain correct body fluid levels and assisting with the ‘electrical’ impulses sent to the nerves, which helps with the correct intake of nutrients.

However, many scientists believe that, if we consume more than a certain level of salt, this can damage our health. Although other scientists disagree with these conclusions it has become accepted that within the healthcare and medical community that the former conclusions are significant enough to be taken seriously.

Predominantly, it is believed that excess salt intake can lead to higher blood pressure and fluid levels. The latter situation, especially when circulated throughout the brain can cause weaknesses to blood vessels, which can ultimately cause coronary problems, potentially resulting in heart attacks and strokes.

However, despite this debate the government health department, at least in the UK, has issued guidelines as to what they believe is the correct intake of salt levels for the average person. The recommendation is that this should be around 6g per day. Current research by the department of health indicates that the daily average at present for adults is between 9 and 10g, or 50% more than the recommended level.

The question of course is what steps can be taken to reduce our daily salt intake. The most obvious answer of course is to stop adding salt to our food and meals. However, whilst this will help it does not completely resolve the situation. As the BBC article suggests, salt sprinkled on food accounts for only 10-15% of our daily intake and therefore ceasing this act alone would still not bring our intake within the recommended levels. Therefore, we have to look for additional ways in cutting down on salt in our diet.

One area where further salt reduction can be achieved is by paying attention to the salt contained within the food products we purchase. Much of the pre-possessed and packaged foods available today already contain a significant level of salt, which is often required for preservative and flavouring reasons. The problem is identifying just how high the salt content is in these products. It is recommended by the BBC that the best way to gauge the level of salt within a product is to locate the sodium content and multiply this by 2.5. This will provide a guide to the levels of sale that are being consumed within a given meal. As reported by the BBC. Dr Wynnie Chan, a nutrition scientist for the British Nutrition Foundation, also recommends increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables we eat as the potassium these contain help to balance out excess salt.

In conclusion therefore, although some disagree, the consensus of scientific and medical opinion has concluded that eating too much salt is unhealthy. Further, simply stopping adding salt to our meals, though helpful, might not reduce our intake to the recommended levels. We also need to be more observant regarding the salt levels contained within the food produce that we purchase. This more disciplined approach to salt intake, together with the eating of the prescribed five day portions of fruit and vegetables will reduce the likelihood of future heart disease.

More information on the BBC @ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/medical_notes/393201.stm