How much salt is too much?

Posted on Aug 21, 2015 in Health Topics

How much salt is too much?

Do you know that eating too much salt is bad for your health? Although our bodies need a little bit of salt, it’s easy to eat too much.

Here is the rule: kids and adults only need to eat around one teaspoon of salt a day. Eating more than one teaspoon of salt a day can harm your health by increasing your blood pressure. High blood pressure can in turn increase your risk for heart disease and stroke – even in young people.

You’d be surprised to know how much salt is in everyday foods and how much more salt you eat than is good for you.

In fact, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa says that South Africans eat eight times more salt than we should be. That is, seven teaspoons of salt more each day than the recommended amount.

This fact goes hand-in-hand with the troubling number of people in South Africa who suffer from high blood pressure. South Africa has one of the highest rates of hypertension in the world.

Many foods contain added salt – swap the culprits for healthier alternatives  

What you may not know is that a lot of the salt you eat, you’re getting from your food before you even add any at the table. Despite this, reducing your family’s salt intake isn’t that difficult. A lot of the changes you can make to reduce salt intake are also good for overall health.

One of the biggest sources of high salt in the diet is processed foods; particularly processed meats like polony or viennas. These foods contain high quantities of saturated and trans fats which are also bad for your heart. All it takes is a simple swap for healthier options, like fresh chicken breast, ostrich fillet or fish. You’ll know the amount of salt you’ve added; and these are overall better for you.

Some foods contain more salt than you might expect. Here are foods high in salt and what you can swap them with for healthier choices:

  • Breakfast cereals. Choose high quality breakfast foods like boiled eggs or rolled oats over processed cereals.
  • Bread can be surprisingly high in salt. Look carefully for bread that has the Heart Mark logo – this shows you the product is healthier and lower in salt than others.
  • Processed foods of any kind. Particularly processed meats like sausages, polony, viennas, biltong, dry wors, and deli or sandwich meats are high in salt. Cook food from scratch and choose fresh varieties of meats like cuts from the butchery, fresh poultry, and fresh or frozen fish with no marinade or seasoning.
  • Sauces, soups, and stocks are often made with huge amounts of salt. Although you may not use much, they can almost double your daily salt intake. Make your own broth with fresh vegetables and meat, and flavour it with unsalted herbs and spices.

The solution to make sure you eat only one teaspoon of salt a day? Choose low-salt foods, fresh ingredients, and add herbs for flavour. Not adding extra salt to your food can help to reduce your risk for heart disease by 40%. Prepare meals with healthy, fresh ingredients for yourself and your kids and you’ll feel the benefits for life.

Source: Discovery Health