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Salt’s sauciness

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RISK FREE Eat foods that do not require heavy doses of salt
RISK FREE Eat foods that do not require heavy doses of salt

for thought Intake of food, loaded with good health, will reduce the craving for salt

The ability to make salt coupled with the discovery of agriculture, heralded the onset of civilisation. Salt is one of the basic tastes and is a biological necessity.

It is so fundamental to life that, as with water, humans have evolved the capacity to consume salt far in excess of what the body requires.

Salt is all too easy to have nowadays, and humans are manifesting the ill effects of unrestricted salt intake in the form of increased risk of hypertension.

Reducing daily salt (sodium chloride) intake to around 6 gm (around 2 gm of sodium) will have a beneficial effect on blood pressure. The effect is in the order of a few mm of mercury. This may be enough to prevent hypertension in some people, and it has an additive effect on drugs used for hypertension.

At the population level, bringing down average blood pressure by a few mm will prevent hypertension and its long-term complications in millions of people.

Reducing salt intake is not easy. A taste for salt is born in childhood, and is hardwired by daily intake of salty foods. The modern food industry hooks its clientele by stunning the palate with primal flavours, and nothing is more primal than salt.

Pickles, chutneys, cured meat, dried fish, fried snacks and most curries contain large amounts of salt.

Packaged foods also contain salt for taste and as a preservative.

The best way to reduce average salt intake in a family is to eat more of healthful foods that do not require salt to be tasty. Eating 10 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables every day will reduce the salt load of a person substantially, and it will increase potassium intake, which reduces blood pressure.

Eating fewer packaged foods will reduce sodium intake. Biscuits, potato chips, fried snacks, salted butter, cheese, and even some sweets contain salt and baking soda - which is another important source of sodium.

Adding salt to a dish at the table instead of during cooking will significantly lower salt intake without compromising too much on saltiness.

Be cautious about Chinese food. Mono sodium glutamate (MSG) is an important ingredient in soy sauce and contains high amounts of sodium. Herbs, lime, tamarind, raw mango and spices can help mask the reduced salt content of a dish.

Over time, taste buds acclimatise to reduced salt in food and salt cravings go away.

RAJIV M.

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