The right amount of salt in your diet is essential to maintaining one’s health. Yet, South Africans today are consuming too much of it. Here’s what you need to know about the benefits of a low-sodium diet and how to achieve it.
Season with less salt for a healthier life.
Salt is highly addictive. Our brains and bodies are designed to enjoy salt because it’s vital for survival. Salt, or sodium chloride (Na), is an important mineral that performs many essential functions in your body. It maintains the body’s fluid balance, and it plays an important role in nerve and muscle function. Over the course of human history, finding salt was difficult, so craving salt was a survival mechanism.
Today, that survival mechanism has turned into an addiction. Salt is still found naturally, of course, in foods like eggs and vegetables. But you’ll also find tons of it, and by that we mean too much of it, in food most of us love to eat, be it of the fast, processed, or convenient varieties.
The benefits of a low sodium diet are enormous.
There are so many health advantages to cutting back on the white granules that we should all think about doing it! A low-sodium diet is also commonly prescribed to people with certain medical conditions, including heart failure, high blood pressure, and kidney disease.
- Eating less salt will lower your blood pressure. Less salt means the amount of fluid in your blood decreases, which leads to lower blood pressure.
- You’ll reduce your risk of a heart attack. By managing high blood pressure, or hypertension, you relieve pressure and potential damage to your heart.
- You’ll decrease your risk of kidney damage. Too much salt can cause the blood vessels in your kidneys to become weakened and narrowed.
- Less salt will reduce your risk of diabetes. A diet that is high in overly salted packaged or convenience foods will increase your chance of developing diabetes.
- You’ll lower your risk of stomach cancer. The bacteria, Helicobacter pylori, a major risk factor for stomach cancer, thrives on high salt content.
- You’ll also reduce bloating and swelling. A diet high in sodium causes your body to retain fluid.
Curb your salt cravings. Here’s how you can do it.
Yes, we agree. Nobody said cutting down on salt would be easy! After all, we find salt in so many of the yummy treats we know and love. But the good news is that your taste buds adapt to the level of saltiness they encounter. When you reduce the amount of sodium in your diet, you decrease your salt cravings. And that’s a great start!
Here are some other pointers:
- Eat more home-cooked meals. Foods cooked from fresh produce are naturally lower in sodium than most instant and boxed mixes.
- Be creative and season your foods with spices, herbs, lemon, garlic, ginger, vinegar and pepper. Remove the saltcellar from the table.
- Choose products with a label stating that they are sodium-free or low in sodium. Be careful though. Labels can be misleading. A product that is labelled “Reduced sodium” may still be swimming in salt!
It’s true. Salt brings out delicious flavours in food, and it can be almost impossible to cut it, or even want to cut it, from your diet. Remember though, that too much salt is bad for your health, particularly if you’ve have a chronic condition.
So, skip the salt! Good health tastes even better!
If you need support, advice, or counselling, please contact us on 0861 GOLIFE (465433) or SMS “Wellbeing” to 43821 or click here to visit the website for more information.
References: https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/guidelines-for-a-low-sodium-diet https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/low-sodium-diet#bottom-line https://www.cookinglight.com/eating-smart/nutrition-101/how-to-read-sodium-on-food-labels