CHENNAI: The extra spicy potato chips, pickles, French fries and even your favourite home-made rasam, sambhar, poriyal and vegetable curry would seem tasteless without salt. These food items are too hard to resist once we start eating them, but they are so high in sodium and we end up in eating more salt than is permissible for our body. Though World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends ideal salt intake of 5 grams per day from all sources for an individual, salt intake in our country remains controlled by our taste buds and not as per the body requirement. The large intake of salt triggers blood pressure, leading to hypertension, stroke, heart attacks, kidney diseases and other diseases.
As per a survey conducted by World Action of Salt and Hypertension (Wash) in Chennai, around 35 per cent of the youngsters were overweight. While only 20 per cent of the youngsters checked the salt intake in processed food, only 30 per cent were aware of the permissible limit of salt intake. “When sodium is high in our body, blood pressure increases and people fail to recognize the early symptoms of high blood pressure. It is too late to realise that health problems such as cardiac diseases and stroke are due to high blood pressure, which was due to high salt intake,” said professor Graham MacGregor, chairman, Wash.
He adds that though it is hard to cut down on the salt levels initially if we cut down on the salt level for 10 days, taste buds adapt to suit as per the taste of the food. It is not only the processed food that we take has a high salt content, but also the added salt that we use for cooking food is mostly more than required by the body. Dietitians emphasise on the need for major awareness, public health program to prevent high intake of salt and subsequently reduce the number of deaths due to cardiac diseases, kidney diseases and strokes. “It is better to cut down the level of salt intake at a young age as it is mainly youngsters who consume a large quantity of salt through processed and junk food. If the salt intake remains unregulated, they can get prone to hypertension, diabetes and blood pressure related problems at a young age. If we spread awareness at a young age, we can bring down the number of deaths due to stroke, hypertension and others in the long term,” said Dr Rajan Ravichandran, a renowned nephrologist.