Much have been written and said about salt and salt reduction.

Unfortunately, as with many ‘blanket’ dietary recommendations, one often achieves exactly the opposite of the goal with the statement: REDUCE YOUR SALT INTAKE. Those individuals who do use salt, ‘shut down’ and those that don’t, regard this statement as not applicable to them.

Please read on….SALT is important!

It’s fact: individual variation does exist in terms of salt requirements. Certain individuals may be very sensitive to salt whereas other may tolerate – or even require- higher levels.

Let’s take a closer look at some often overlooked issues:

What is salt?

Salt is a combination of the minerals sodium (Na) and chloride (Cl) – sodium chloride. 1 g salt contains 394 mg sodium.
SALT, or Sodium is a mineral abundant in food. As a result of this, there is little danger of ingesting too little sodium – except if excessive amounts of water is consumed.

The main sources of salt are either mining in areas with deposits of crystalline salt, or evaporation of seawater in shallow pans.

Sodium is an essential mineral. That means, we have to get it from dietary sources. Sodium is naturally present in agricultural products, but the content may vary due to influences such as the soil condition.

Various additives also contribute sodium: processed foods are a source of salt as the additives are often sodium salts, e.g. sodium nitrate, sodium benzoate, sodium propionate, etc.

Food that commonly contribute high levels of sodium include:

Fast foods
Cured meat
Salty snacks
Packet/reconstitute with water type foods
Instant soups
Instant sauces
For many years, one of the biggest culprits of high sodium salt intake was bread!

Eating these foods often?

It’s likely that your salt intake is higher than what you might perceive it to be. Hidden salt disturbs one’s perception of how much salt you are consuming and disturbs the important balance between the different minerals in the body. required for optimal functioning.

What should be done?

Check the sodium content of processed foods and try and minimize the foods you eat that contain preservatives to once per day. as a starting point.
Never add salt when cooking vegetables. Only use salt when cooking meat/starches.
Use freshly ground salt on salads and if required, vegetables.
It is also an option to choose salt ‘flakes’ and you might find that you require less as a result of the salt being directly on your tongue.

More importantly however, one should try to balance sodium salt in the diet with potassium!

It has been shown in studies that the higher one’s potassium intake, the lower one’s blood pressure. This underlines the importance of not simply reducing added salt and sodium intake – but increasing potassium intake.

Foods that are good sources of potassium include:

ALL Vegetables
Potatoes
Mushrooms
Beetroot
Spinach
Banana
Dried fruit

It’s vital to prepare food in such a way that potassium and other nutrients are preserved:

Do not peel vegetables or fruit of which you can eat the skin – i.e. potatoes, apples, etc.
Do not “soak” vegetables in water to prevent them from browning – wash and cut just before you cook.
Use as little water as possible to steam and cook vegetables.
Eat raw vegetables every day!