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Tame Your Salt Habit
October 29, 2013

Last Saturday, Food Lovers magazine had invited me to speak on Nutrition & Health as a part of their Food Fiesta celebration at 1 MG Mall.  One of the questions raised by the audience was “Is salt necessary for the body?  What if we don’t take salt at all?”

Salt (rather, sodium) is needed for the body.  Sodium is required to maintain the fluid balance and to transmit nerve impulses.  Salt being the best source of dietary sodium, it is required in small amounts on a daily basis.  Unfortunately, the average daily intake of salt by an Indian far exceeds the limit set by nutrition experts.  Last year, WHO issued guidelines for sodium intake even for children.  This indicates that most people are eating more salt than necessary, and by reducing the intake of salt we can reduce the risk of cardiac related health problems.

Sodium is not only added to cooked foods in the form of salt at home but is also present in processed foods.  Here are a few tips to cut back on sodium / salt intake –

  • Include more fresh vegetables and fruits in your meal plan.
  • Reduce or remove salt from recipes wherever possible.  Eg – don’t add salt to rice while cooking it or to chapati while kneading the atta.
  • Restrict the use of sodium-laden foods foods like soy sauce, cheese, salted butter, pickles, salt biscuits, etc.
  • Replace some of the salt in the recipe with herbs and spices to flavor foods.
  • If you wish to use salt substitutes, check with your dietitian.
  • Read labels while shopping.  Mono sodium glutamate, baking soda, sodium citrate, sodium nitrite and so on, are all sources of sodium which can increase the total sodium intake.

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