26 March 2012
March 26th sees the worldwide launch of Salt Awareness Week, with people being told of the health dangers that the ingredient can present.
The campaign was first launched in 2005 under the guidance of World Action On Salt and Health and aims to significantly cut the intake of salt by people across the globe.
Consensus Action on Salt & Health (CASH) has also weighed in on the problems that the mineral can represent if consumed on a regular basis.
According to the organisation, a diet which is high in salt could lead to people experiencing higher blood pressure. This is heightened even more if individuals are indulging in a diet filled with fatty foods, while keeping fruit and vegetable intake to a minimum.
One of the main risks associated with high blood pressure is stroke – a condition which is currently the third most common cause of death across the UK.
CASH pointed out that there are around 150,000 strokes and mini strokes per year in the UK, with about a third of these proven fatal.
While the likelihood of suffering a stroke can be higher if a person is male, over the age of 55 or has a family history of the disease, many people could reduce their chances of contracting the condition by altering their diet.
For one, Brits looking to become healthier should try and keep their salt intake to no more than six grams per day – the equivalent of a teaspoon.
This piece of advice is underlined by the fact that the average daily salt intake for people in the UK is currently 8.6 grams.
In order to chop this level down to size, families are wise to check labels for salt content, especially on items such as soup, bread, cereal, meat products and sauces.
By doing this, Brits will be able to compare the products and determine which food would represent the healthier option.
However, this would be of little effect if people then chose to add salt when cooking a meal or allowing for the mineral to feature on a dinner table. Those used to eating food mixed with salt will likely taste the difference at first, but the taste buds should soon adapt.
It is not just members of the public who can make a difference though, with restaurant brand Tossed having a commitment never to add salt to any of its dishes.
Vincent Mckevitt, 30, the founder of Tossed, commented: "We add herbs, spices, chilli, lemon, seeds; we roast ingredients to intensify the flavours rather than using salt."
For those looking to dine at home instead of hitting the town, new research by CASH may give more food for thought when it comes to choosing healthier diets.
This is because the organisation found that the average pizza cooked at a takeaway contains up to two and a half times more salt than the standard supermarket equivalent.
Furthermore, half of the takeaway pizzas studied as part of the research contained more than an entire day's maximum recommended salt intake.
Professor Graham MacGregor, chairman of CASH, believes that such results are "a national disgrace" as it means people are having their health put at risk with a process that they cannot monitor.
"The government is not taking enough action to reduce the amount of salt in the takeaway sector. The supermarkets have made the same pizzas with much less salt – showing how easy it would be for the whole sector [to cut down]," he pointed out.
People concerned about suffering a stroke can also ease their mind by pursuing a fitness regime which will allow them to lose weight, as well as choosing to quit smoking.
Many health institutes also allow individuals to have regular blood pressure checks, which can monitor if the body is at an increased risk of stroke.
Posted by Philip Briggs
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