Adding an extra dose of salt to your diet may increase the risk of acquiring high blood pressure – a potent risk factor for heart diseases and stroke. In the wake of heightened heart disease risk, the World Health Organization on the eve of World Heart Day (September 29) urged all the countries to adopt its policies to reduce salt levels in the diet.
As heart disease and stroke are two of the leading causes of premature death, WHO is optimistic that millions of lives can be saved from these noncommunicable diseases if the salt intake is reduced by at least 30% by 2025. WHO advocates adults to consume no more than 5 grams of salt a day, but the intake should further drop for children aged 2 to 15. However, WHO observed people on average eating more than double the recommended limits of sodium.
“Salt is in almost everything we eat, either because high levels of salt are found in most processed and prepared foods, or because we are adding salt when we prepare food at home,” adds Dr Oleg Chstnov, WHO Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Disease and Mental Health.
Dr. Chestnov stressed the need for all the countries to undertake initiatives to minimize salt overuse to improve the health profile of the respective country. He also asked the processed-food sector to work in sync with WHO and national governments to mitigate sodium levels in the food products.
WHO also came out with some simple family-level interventions to cut back on the salt content, such as reading food labels to check the sodium levels, choosing low-sodium varieties, eating fruits and veggies as snacks, taking the salt shaker and bottled sauces off the dining table, limiting salt levels while cooking to a fifth of a teaspoon over the course of a day, training children’s taste buds towards unprocessed foods and avoiding sodium-rich processed foods.