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Why too much salt is bad for your child

Wondering why you should reduce your family’s salt intake? Read on for more information on why too much salt is unhealthy for your child.

Did you know that South Africa has one of the highest rates of hypertension in the world, and we’re putting our children at risk?

A high sodium diet is known to cause high blood pressure, which can increase your risk of health problems like heart disease and stroke, according to Allison Vienings, Executive Director of the Self-Medication Manufacturers Association of South Africa (SMASA).

While our bodies require sodium, we must exercise caution in our consumption.

Adults should consume less than a teaspoon (5g) of salt per day and children even less, according to the World Health Organization, but experts estimate that some South Africans consume as much as 40g per day.

Where does all of this salt come from?

According to Dr Vash Mungal-Singh, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA, up to 60% of salt is hidden in products and consumed by people who are likely unaware of the high salt content in their food.

Three major sources of salt

  • Seasonings such as salt and condiments that we use in the kitchen or at the table
  • Vegetables, dairy products, meat, and shellfish are all-natural sources.
  • Bread, ready-to-eat meals, bacon, cheese, and fast foods are examples of processed and prepared foods.

Why is it bad to eat too much salt?

Too much salt in your diet can lead to kidney problems and stones, stomach cancer, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure, among other serious consequences. High blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa, we can prevent up to 80% of cardiovascular diseases by changing our lifestyles.

“Responsible self-care isn’t just about taking the right medication at the right time; it’s about controlling every aspect of your health,” says Vienings. “With the right information, you can work to reduce your salt intake and avoid high blood pressure and the cardiovascular risks that come with it.”

Four ways to cut back on salt

  1. Examine the label

Look at how much salt is in each 100g of the item. More than 1.5 grams of salt (0.6 grams of sodium) is considered high, while 0.3 grams of salt (0.1 grams of sodium) is considered low. If the sodium content is only listed on the label, multiply it by 2.5 to get the salt content.

  1. Reduce the amount of salt used

Reduce the amount of salt in your food at the table and flavor it with herbs, spices, garlic, or lemon juice when cooking.

  1. Limit your intake of processed and prepared foods

Stock cubes, gravies, packet soups, cheese, some breakfast cereals, breads, salty snacks, processed meats, and fast foods contain a lot of salt and should be consumed in moderation.

  1. Indulge in more whole foods

Sodium can be found in small amounts in vegetables, dairy products, meat, and shellfish. Sticking to whole foods is a great way to reduce your sodium intake.  

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