Salt in foods

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Overview

Salt (sodium) is one of the minerals that our bodies need daily.

Along with potassium, helps regulate the body’s water level. However, sodium is a mineral that must be present in moderate amounts in our daily diet.


Contents

1. Overview
2. Risks of high-sodium diets
3. Why do we need salt?
4. Hidden sources of salt
5. What to check on product labels?
6. How to reduce salt from your diet?


Risks of high-sodium diets

On average, a person consumes 9 grams of salt per day. The more you eat more salt, the higher blood pressure will be. A high blood pressure is a risk factor for developing heart disease because it determines the heart to work harder to pump blood throughout the body.

This high blood pressure can harm the arteries that carry blood, by making them weak and blocking fat storage. Consumption of too much salt, seems to be closely related to stomach cancer.

Other studies have confirmed the relationship between high sodium intake and osteoporosis and worsening of symptoms in asthma sufferers.


Why do we need salt?

Sodium is the element that the body needs to exercise a variety of essential functions. Salt helps maintain the fluid in blood cells and is used to transmit information to muscles and nerves.

Has an important role for the assimilation of nutrients in the small intestine. The body can’t produce salt, so the daily salt requirement is provided through food intake.


Hidden sources of salt

Between 65-85% of salt needed is already in the foods we eat. The amount of sodium listed on food packaging is not real, in fact, value is 2.5 times higher than what is written on the product package.

Obviously salty foods such as ham, olives, bread, ready meals, cooked beans and breakfast cereals are high in sodium.

Salt is added to foods for various reasons such as:
- Seasoning – to improve food taste
- Conservation
- Thickening agent – in processed meat;
- Natural dye – make food more attractive visually
- Change in texture – helps provide consistency, tenders the meat and cheese;
- Control the fermentation process – affects consistency and reduce the risk of infection by harmful bacteria to food.

The recommended amount of salt

Adults should not exceed a limit of 6 grams of salt per day, or about one full teaspoon.

Children under 11 years should consume
- 1 to 3 years – 2g salt per day (0.8 g sodium)
- 4 to 6 years – 3g salt per day (1.2g sodium)
- 7 to 10 years – 5g salt per day (2g sodium).


What to check on product labels?

On product labels, the salt content is often noted in grams of sodium. To convert sodium in grams of salt, multiply the amount of sodium by 2.5.

The sodium limit for an adult is 2.5 g per day. The product package is passed only amount to 100 grams, not the total for the entire product.


How to reduce salt from your diet?

You can reduce dietary salt as follows:
- Do not add salt in foods
- Do not use salt when cooking
- When shopping, choose foods containing 0.1 g sodium per 100g
- Replace everyday foods such as breads, cereals and canned foods with less salt options
- Limit consumption of salty foods.

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