Do we eat way too much salt? Researchers believe so. While we need about one teaspoon of salt per day, Indians are generally said to be eating close to 8 teaspoons of salt in a day.
Excess salt intake, which contains sodium, a mineral that is necessary in small amounts to maintain our body’s normal functions, can impair our health in many ways.
Here is a list of dangers of excess salt or sodium intake:
- Hypertension: High blood pressure is one of the most common consequences of high salt intake
- Kidney damage: High salt and uncontrolled hypertension are enough to damage the kidneys in the long run to a point of no return
- Heart disease: Sodium excesses and hypertension also damage the heart and its arteries
- Water retention: People who eat too much salt can tend to retain water in ankles, face and feet that might appear puffy
Read on to know how to balance out our daily sodium intake.
- Limit salty foods such as pickles, namkeens and salted nuts with the goal of eliminating them entirely. Avoid storing these at home
- Increase the consumption of vegetables and fruits, particularly potassium rich vegetables such as greens and carrots. Other potassium rich foods include tender coconut water, fruits, whole pulses, milk products and cereals. Potassium counterbalances sodium, thereby reducing the negative effects of the latter
- Limit meals eaten at restaurants as they tend to be sodium dense. Carry sodium controlled meals from home.
- Focus on high-fiber, low-calorie foods by making ½ plate full with vegetables and fruits at lunch and dinner
- Use low sodium salt that is available in the market
- Do not add additional salt on the foods. Remove and discard salt shakers if they are invitingly present on your dinner table
- Experiment with other natural flavors to replace salt craving. Cinnamon, ginger, mint, lemon, oregano and other herbs have their own aromas that are enticing and healthy!
- Skip adding salt wherever possible in foods like chapatti, roti, salads, idli or dosa batters since these are anyway eaten with other accompaniments
- Increase water and low calorie fluid intake such as tender coconut water, buttermilk, vegetable soups to flush out sodium
- Try including a barley broth or soup whenever you have eaten excess salt. Barley is a natural diuretic and lowers the toxic effects of excess sodium
- Make instant pickles rather than the ones that need to be stored for long periods of time since the latter takes in more salt.
- Shun the salty popcorns: Popcorns sold in movie theatres or the instant mixes, are dangerously high on sodium. One tub of popcorn can be more than 2 days’ worth of sodium!
- Skip the doughnuts: One small doughnut contains enough sodium to meet a child’s requirement for an entire week!! Such toxic levels of sodium can damage the kidneys in the long run. Choose healthier foods instead such as fresh corn or sliced cucumbers or fruits if available.
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