World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that ‘An average of 5 gram of salt is adequate for a human being in a day’. But Indians are consuming double the quantity as researched by the Public Health Foundation of India. About 1,395 people were researched on the subject in the districts of Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and in Delhi. The research has found out that about 9.5 grams of salt is consumed by the people in Haryana and Delhi, whereas it is 10.4 grams in Andhra Pradesh.
Sodium is one of the essential mineral for an organism to survive. We receive sodium mostly in the form of salt. But clinicians are of the opinion that the deaths happening in India due to high blood pressure and other heart related diseases that are non-communicable are because of the use of high salt content. Heart diseases happen due to the high salt content that increases incidence of blood pressure. Therefore, many times the World Health Organization has informed that salt is one of the important factors for the increased mortality rate in India.
The above mentioned research finding informs that there is lack of awareness among the Indians about the ill effects of using high amount of salt, and how much of salt is needed as essential in a day. When we say salt, we consider only the amount of salt that we use for cooking. But we keep consuming salt in various other ways inadvertently in a day.
“The reason for high amount of salt consumption is due to the changing food habits. The amount of salt we use daily has increased dangerously in the past twenty years. We keep consuming salt through various forms of foods like pickles, dry fish, chips, biscuits, samosa, noodles and fast foods. We keep consuming packed foods that are having more salt content”, opines the General Physician, Dr Arunachalam.
“Salt does not only provide taste to the foods. It has the capacity to kill germs. Hence, it can also be termed as ‘microbicide’. Since the olden days, it has been practiced to use salt in processing food items such as fish and meat and also to cleaning food products. We can realize that there is more salt content in the foods served by hotels starting from a small restaurant to the star hotels, at present. In most of the hotels more salt is deliberately added to today’s food to preserve it for the next day. More salt is added to packed foods so as to preserve them for long time”, says Dr Arunachalam.
“Salt contains various key minerals such as sodium, calcium, potassium, manganese, iodine and fluoride, that are essential for our body. But it is not that they are only available through adding salt to our food items as they are also available in fruits and vegetables. Therefore, we can get adequate minerals essential for our body, even if we reduce the consumption of salt. At the same time, sodium is available more in salt than any other minerals. The American Heart Association determines that it is adequate to have 1500 mg of sodium per day for a person. That means, half of a teaspoon of salt itself is enough for a person per day. But without our knowledge we tend to consume an average of three teaspoons of salt per day, through various means. That is the major reason for us to have ill health many times. Therefore, it is important that we ration our intake of salt in a day. It is better to inculcate the practice of consuming less amount of salt from childhood. It is important that those who suffer from blood pressure should exercise more caution in consuming salt”, says Dietician, Menaka.
(This article written in Tamil by G Lakshmanan has been reproduced in English by V Amalan Stanley)
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