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WHO Recommended Salt Intake and the Risk of High Sodium Level

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SALT - Sodium Chloride ( NaCl)

Salt is an essential part of the human to lead a healthy and balanced life. It helps in regulating water balance, enhances muscle functions, and manages nerve impulses.

However, a high level of salt intake will be dangerous to life. It is the moment to look at the safe level of salt intake and necessary actions.

Limit Salt for Healthy Life

Limit Salt for Healthy Life

New WHO Benchmark for Salt Intake

On 5 May 2021, WHO launched the new global sodium benchmark for different food categories to save lives by reducing dietary sodium intake. This benchmark was set for around 60 food categories to minimize the level of sodium in processed foods.

According to WHO, 11 million deaths are associated with poor diet globally, among which 3 million deaths are due to high sodium intake. Excess sodium intake will increase blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

As per WHO, a high sodium diet includes greater than 2g of sodium or greater than 5g of salt per day.

A considerable amount of sodium in the diet comes from processed foods such as cereals and grains, bread, processed meat, and dairy products.

This initiation by WHO is a significant step for reformulating food products that contributes much to sodium reduction.

Reasons for Higher Salt Intake

There are many aspects of an increased salt intake in our diet. High sodium (>5g salt) along with low potassium(<3.5g) in the diet will lead to heart diseases, high blood pressure, and stroke.

Major reasons for consuming a high level of salt is due to,

  1. Adopting processed foods in the diet than fresh food items. These foods are much available and affordable by anyone.
  2. Having the false faith that aged people only need to worry about salt reduction.
  3. Low consumption of fruits and vegetables that are rich in fiber and potassium.
  4. Salt is not only the source of sodium, but also it is coming from other chemical additives in processed foods.
  5. Food high in salt may not taste salty sometimes due to the addition of other flavors. Check out the sodium level mentioned on the food label.
  6. Consuming a higher amount of sodium-rich fruits and vegetables such as papaya, pineapple, mango, broccoli, carrot, sweet potato, etc.
  7. Sodium can be infused after cooking at the table by adding sauce and table salt to your food as a habit.

How much salt in a day?

Salt intake per day recommended by WHO is 5g, in which its sodium content is less than 2g in the diet.

5 Major Risks of High Sodium Level

  1. Too much salt will increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
  2. High sodium will let your body retain water which in turn burden up the blood vessels and heart. It increases high blood pressure.
  3. Too much sodium will make the body retain water and bloat up. It affects digestion and makes you feel uncomfortable.
  4. Excess sodium can affect the bone by weakening and lead to Osteoporosis.
  5. High salt intake will lead to kidney disorders by loading up the nephrons and affects their mechanism.

How to reduce Salt Intake?

  1. Initiation by Government - Authorities can take the necessary actions and regulations over the food industries and manufacturers. This will control the level of sodium in processed and package foods.
  2. Adaption - Make your taste buds adapt to less salt intake gradually.
  3. Wash out Sodium - Consumption of excess water and high potassium will reduce the sodium level through excretion.
  4. Read food labels - Look out for low salt added products and avoid foods such as pickles, sauces, salted nuts, papads, and other addictive added foods.
  5. Overcome with flavors - Addition flavors to the food may reduce the level of salt. Lemon, pepper, onion powder, garlic, and chili flakes are used as alternatives.
  6. Avoid during Cooking - Reduce the addition of salt during food preparation. For instance, don't add salt to the boiled rice or chapatti.
  7. Use Substitute - Using a salt substitute will reduce the sodium level it includes potassium chloride.
  8. Reduce Availability - Don't place table salt on the dining. Few have false thought that additional salt will enhance the food taste.
  9. Avoid salty snacks - Most of the packaged snacks are high in salt levels. It can be reduced and replaced by a homemade low salt snack.
  10. Pair up - Combine the unsalted food with salted food to make it taste better. For instance, consume unsalted rice along with salted dhal.

Know the Sodium Level

Salt containing approximately 40% of Sodium and 60% of Chloride. 1 teaspoon withholds 5g of salt.

1 teaspoon salt = 2000 mg sodium

3/4 teaspoon salt = 1150 mg sodium

1/2 teaspoon salt = 1725 mg sodium

1/4 teaspoon salt = 575 mg sodium

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An adequate quantity of salt is to be included in the everyday diet. Eating excess salt will never enhance your health; instead, it spoils you better. So having an eye on the level of sodium intake is much important to lead a healthy life.

Stay Healthy, Stay Safe :)


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Myvizhi Palanisamy

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