Salt is one of the most important elements for the regulation of cellular exchanges. But consuming too much can have serious consequences, let’s find out why.
Salt, or sodium, is one of the essential minerals for our body, responsible with potassium for the mechanisms of muscle contraction. It also plays an important role in the transmission of nerve impulses from the brain. But although salt is naturally present in many foods, it is commonly consumed in the form of sodium chloride and added to foods to enhance their taste and shelf life. Precisely because salt is so important it is necessary to pay attention to the quantities you consume. In fact, if it is very difficult to meet a sodium hull, but in recent times the incidence of problems related to sodium consumption has increased. So let’s find out some useful tips to reduce the consumption of salt.
Salt consumption in Italy
A study was recently conducted on salt consumption in Italy and the results do not bode well. In fact, the figures indicate how the adult Italian population eats between 8 and 10 grams of salt on a daily basis . On the other hand, children and teenagers, especially between the ages of 6 and 18, consume between 7.4 and 6.7 grams of salt per day.
These are obviously values well above the average, so much so that they are double the amount recommended by the WHO of about 5 grams per day . However, it must be borne in mind that the daily sodium requirement is 2 grams, and that each gram of salt contains only 0.4 grams of sodium.
In any case, the consumption of salt also increases due to the packaged food products that are normally found on the tables. This is why knowing which are the main sources of sodium is very important, it allows you to make informed and safe choices , avoiding serious pathologies linked to the consumption of salt. So let’s see what advice to follow to protect our health.
Salt consumption: which foods to avoid
Another way to control your salt intake is to limit certain foods . Specifically, we are referring to baked goods, cured meats, cheeses and industrial foods.
In fact, bread, sweets and bakery products in general contain high percentages of salt, which are often underestimated. I’m talking about 1.7 grams of salt per 100 grams of bread, or similar products. Therefore, to stay below the threshold, a good choice may be to consume other sources of carbohydrates . Some examples are potatoes, whole grains and whole flours.
Maybe you can use these ingredients to prepare homemade wraps , which will surely have minimal amounts of salt compared to those produced industrially.
Even cured meats and sausages contain very high percentages of sodium, for example pecorino cheese alone contains 4.5 grams of salt per pound. For this reason it is better to prefer fresh cheeses, which have a lower salt content, but you must also pay attention to cured meats . This food should be consumed only occasionally and it would be better to replace these foods with untreated meats, even better if white.
Finally, as we have already said, it is essential to drastically reduce the consumption of industrial foods , and therefore of salt. In this way it is possible to modulate the intake of salt in the diet , without considering that the dishes can be flavored with spices and smells. The best alternatives to salt can be:
These are just some of the alternatives that can be used in the kitchen that can help control salt consumption.
Eat more fruits and vegetables
Increasing the intake of fruits, vegetables and legumes in your diet is a great way to control your salt intake. These foods are in fact rich in potassium , very useful for balancing and counteracting the action of sodium. To obtain a correct potassium intake, you need to consume at least five portions of vegetables a day. This can also slow down the absorption of blood sugar.
Furthermore, the high consumption of salt favors the increase in the volume of extracellular fluids and this leads to an increase in blood pressure and a greater retention of extracellular fluids.
Therefore it is essential to limit the consumption of salt in all ages, especially to reduce the risk of contracting serious diseases related to hypertension, such as myocardial infarction and stroke.
Reduce your salt consumption: check labels
One of the key points to control salt consumption is to read and check food labels. In fact, the only way to fully realize the true consumption of salt is to check the quantity present in the products you buy. Foods with an amount of salt greater than 1.2 grams per 100 grams are to be considered to be avoided.
Therefore, to flavor your foods and control the consumption of salt, a good solution can be to avoid industrial stock cubes, which normally contain additives, preservatives or processed vegetable oils . It would be better to prepare a homemade vegetable or meat broth, perhaps freezing portions and then reusing it.