Salt is an important nutrient that supports the nerves and muscles in the body. Plus, it balances the electrolytes in the human body by keeping the amount of water in and around the cells in check. However, too much dietary salt, which is common in salty foods like junk food and fast food, can compromise your health.
Adults should eat no more than one teaspoon of salt per day, while children should have only a quarter teaspoon or two grams of salt daily. Unfortunately, for far too long, increased population salt intake has gone unnoticed, resulting in a plethora of lifestyle disorders affecting both young and old people. The reason for this is that it's not only what we cook that contains salt; packaged foods, quick meals, junk food, canned food and other commercial products that are within our reach have some degree of hidden salt that gradually damages our blood vessels.
Adding up our overall consumption of salt on a given day, we virtually always exceed the recommended dietary allowance for sodium intake. Salt, like sugar, is a major contributor to lifestyle diseases, which emphasises the importance of low-sodium diets. If you're not sure how these work, join World Salt Awareness Week from 14 to 20 March to find out how to ditch the salt shaker for fresh herbs that are not only healthier salt options but also more aesthetic.
What is World Salt Awareness Week?
World Salt Awareness Week is a week-long event held every year in March to raise awareness about the dangers of excessive salt consumption. It aims to reduce population salt intake, educate the public on the health benefits and many ways of cooking with less salt in food, and to encourage everyone to make simple food choices with reduced sodium content. The goal is to have at least one million users participate in reducing salt consumption throughout the duration of the week by sharing recipes, tips and blog posts or videos online.
Consuming large amounts of salt daily over a long period of time is a major factor in the development of many chronic diseases, such as increased blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases like congestive heart failure and coronary heart disease. Salty foods cause the body's fluid levels to rise, which causes increased blood volume leading to high blood pressure or hypertension. Over time, high blood pressure leads to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes because it damages cells, including those in the heart and brain. Eating high amounts of sodium is also a risk factor for the following medical conditions:
- Kidney diseases like end-stage renal disease
- Stomach cancer
- Heart attack
- Headaches and migraines
- Bloating and swelling
Many studies have shown that reducing the salt content in the foods you eat by just 1,500 mg per will lead to a significant reduction on blood pressure just as effectively as many high blood pressure medications. Over time, this strategy is expected to significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and death related to these other health conditions.
Source: Visual Paradigm
How Can You Get Involved in World Salt Awareness Week?
There are many ways to participate in this year's World Salt Awareness Week and take action on salt reduction. You'll not only learn how to avoid the harmful effects of increasing daily salt intake, but you'll also help countless Australian adults and their families improve their health.
You can join a food fair, showcasing your mouthwatering entrees and emphasising the use of minimum table salt. Many people's taste buds will very sure be piqued by this, especially those who aren't used to dishes with low salt levels. Let's face it. Everyone eats pizza, burgers, crackers, pasta and deli meat, which all have high levels of salt.
If you can teach them how to use healthier salt alternatives (and no, we're not talking about kosher salt, despite the hype) in everyday foods like pies, barbeque, and vegetables, they'll eventually bid their high-salt diets good riddance.
Since virtual dinners are part of the new normal, sharing delicious recipes that contain low sodium levels with your friends and family via Zoom, or other online communication platforms, is another way to be part of the event and promote salt reduction strategies.
If you're constantly on social media platforms, you can start a blog to share your healthy lifestyle journey with others, while including low-sodium diets that can help with weight loss, chronic kidney disease, coronary heart disease, and other conditions.
You can also post a simple recipe for making homemade stock with lesser salt content compared to store-bought varieties. Share tips for cooking tasty meals without salt on social media using hashtag #ReduceSodium.
Say No to Sodium Consumption and Yes to Herbs!
The reduction of salt in food has many beneficial effects. Changing our salt habit has long-term effects on our body weight, as well as allowing us to experiment with a variety of fresh foods to use in place of salt. By the way, less sodium consumption does not equate to bland, boring meals. World Salt Awareness Week 2022 aims to educate everybody on how to create a healthy diet that includes tasty foods that do not increase the risk of heart disease or cause other health risks due to the decreased intake of salt.
Herbs, including oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary and tarragon, are used in low-sodium diets. These can improve the flavour of meals without adding sodium. Garlic, on the other hand, can be added to meals in order to not only enhance flavour but also to lower blood pressure. Herbs, like salt, can be used in almost all types of food categories - breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts, you name it!
So, if you think the reduction of salt can make your gastronomic experience less exciting, think again. Following a low-salt diet will not only allow you to expand your ingredients lists for a wide array of recipes, but it will also teach how to verify the content of foods you buy at the supermarket to ensure you're not getting anything your body doesn't require.
Additionally, the reduction in salt intake will protect you from chronic diseases even in old age, as well as make it easier for you to participate in any form of physical activity because your body will feel lighter.
Going back to our calculation earlier in this article, is your daily salt intake more than two grams per day? If you answered yes, it's not too late to start a diet rich in herbs to counter the ill effects of salt. By taking part in World Salt Awareness Week, you can learn more practical strategies in the kitchen so you can start recreating your favourite recipes minus the detrimental effects of salt.