8 ways you can reduce salt in your diet? - CALIFORNIA HEALTH

8 ways you can reduce salt in your diet?


8 ways you can reduce salt in your diet?

8 ways you can reduce salt in your diet?


Salt adds taste to our food, but did you know that too much salt can raise your blood pressure thereby increasing your risk of getting kidney disease, heart diseases and stroke?

High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is considered the silent killer. This is because many people have it without knowing as they do not have any symptoms, even though it is a major cause of death and disability around the world. Sadly, people from Africa have a higher risk of having high blood pressure, kidney diseases and stroke, compared to other ethnic groups which makes it more important for us to be careful with our salt intake.

How much salt is food for health?

Current recommendation for adults is to have not more than 6g of salt a day. This is equivalent to 1tsp of salt the whole day. This 1tsp recommendation includes all the salt that we use in cooking and at the table, as well as salt that are already in processed foods such as bread, pizza, bacon, salted nuts and cheese. In the UK, it is estimated that about two thirds of the salt people eat are already in the foods we eat. But, for us Africans the evidence suggests that most of our salt is added to our cooking and/or at the table.

How to keep your salt intake in check?

salt good for health?
Start by speaking to a personal dietitian to look at your overall diet, help you identify the sources of salt in your diet and devise a personalised plan for you.
  • Cook from scratch and experiment cooking with less salt. Try using herbs, peppers, garlic and spices instead of salt. This way you get to bring out the natural flavour and taste of foods.
  • Ask yourself some tough practical questions about recurrent behaviour with salt such as the reason why you put salt in your rice and put some in your stew too? Have you tasted rice without salt before? Do you know that you mask the actual taste of so many foods by just adding too much salt? Why put salt on ripped plantain which is supposed to taste sweet?
  • Always taste the food before adding salt if needed. Have you ever been to a restaurant and seen people order food and the first thing they grab is the saltshaker even before they taste food? Why assume that there isn’t enough salt when you haven’t tasted?
  • If you have to use salt, measure a little onto a spoon so that you know how much you are using, rather than tipping the bottle and pouring straight into the food.
  • Avoid salty snacks such as crisps, salted nuts etc. Nuts are a very healthy but putting salt on it negates most of the healthy attributes so have it unsalted.
  • Don’t be lured into a false sense of security with ‘sea salt’, rock salt and the rest.
  • Read food labels and always go for lower salt versions of baked beans, bacon etc.
    Avoid foods tinned in brine (salted water), as well as foods labelled cured, pickled or corned as all of these indicate high salt.
  • If you use the traffic light labelling as a guide always look out for greens, occasionally amber, and avoid red coding for salt.
Just like kicking any old habit, it might take time for your taste buds to get used to less salt. But it is important to make a conscious effort to use less salt. This means getting used to the taste of less salt in your soup, stews etc. Give yourself time. Soon your taste buds will get used to less salt such that you’ll not tolerate too much salt. Dougie’s advice: “If you have not checked your blood pressure recently, arrange for it to be checked. High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of premature death. It has no symptoms so getting it checked is the start to getting treatment, which can save your life. BOOK AN APPOINTMENT to speak to a personal dietitian who can guide you through your options. If your blood pressure is high, eating healthily, cutting down salt, doing regular exercise and losing weight can help to control it. In many cases, medications are also needed’”