Some vegetables and fruits contain higher amounts of salt and therefore have to be taken in limited amounts to avoid overloading the body with sodium.
Hyderabad: Hidden salt in packaged and junk foods, and in the general Indian food items is said to contribute to 6 lakh deaths every year, the fifth leading cause for mortality.
Cardiologists renewed their caution during World Salt Awareness Week. Indian foods are generally high on salt. Packaged foods which are consumed from childhood to adolescence are stated to add to that risk factor.
Senior cardiologist Dr Manoj Agarwal said in a major shift in dietary habits, Indians were taking to packaged foods or ready-to-eat foods where the amount of salt is high. "To add to this are the poor lifestyle habits because of which young patients are increasingly suffering from heart diseases."
Nutritionists said that the concept of hidden salt is not understood by most consumers. Senior nutritionist Dr Sujatha Stephen said reading of labels is not a habit among Indian consumers. "At nutritional sessions that are held in companies, we explain how to understand the data on labels as a lot of the staff are dependent on such foods."
Dr C. Venkat Ram, director of Apollo Institute for Blood Pressure Management, said Indians are used to high content of salt and it is difficult to consume foods with low salt content. "In clinical set-up, we found that preventive use of salt was restricted to less than one per cent of the population. They believe that if they do not have hypertension, they need not opt for salt control." Consumption of excess salt is one of the reasons of high blood pressure which increases the risk of stroke, heart attack and kidney failure, the leading causes of death and disability.
Studies debunk salt myths
About a third of medical studies contend that the percentage of salt in food is not a cause for concern as people with normal blood pressures too suffer from heart disease and strokes.
In a review, a team of experts from Columbia University found that just 54 per cent of 269 academic reports favoured salt reduction. Of the rest, 33 per cent concluded that reducing salt makes no difference to long-term health, while 13 per cent were inconclusive.
Cardiologist Dr Abhilash Bhargav said, "People with normal BP could suffer from heart disease and strokes due to other factors like alcohol consumption, smoking and stress. Clinical data has found that direct and indirect consumption of salt is the leading cause for rising cases and it is important to bring down consumption levels."