Sodium is an important mineral that is naturally present in a variety of foods. Sodium in the form of salt (sodium + chloride) is added to all the savory preparations, be it at home or restaurant.
Today, we have become so habituated to the taste of salt, that food without salt tastes bland and tasteless.
High sodium intake is linked to an increased risk of diseases of the heart, kidneys, arteries, brain, liver and the gut. Therefore, it is important to prevent overconsumption of sodium.
On the other hand, low sodium intake can be dangerous and life-threatening too. Hence, it is important for a healthy individual to know how much sodium he should consume per day.
Several health authorities have established the guidelines for sodium consumption among healthy individuals.
Recommended Salt Intake
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the maximum sodium intake in adults should be 2 grams/day, which equals to almost one teaspoon (approx. 5 grams) salt per day.
This recommendation applies to all individuals, including pregnant women and lactating mothers. Individuals with heart, liver or kidney diseases must consult their doctor and dietician to know their sodium intake.
WHO has further recommended that adults with high blood pressure and those who are at risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, and coronary heart disease should reduce their sodium intake to less than 2 grams/day.
The guideline to reduce the sodium intake below 2 grams/day does not apply to people who lose huge amounts of sodium in sweat like athletes, sportsmen, and workers exposed to major heat stress. These individuals need to consume sodium as directed by their healthcare provider. (1)
How Much Is the Salt Consumption In India?
Researchers have found that salt consumption in India is high. In fact, the intake is much higher than 5 grams/day, which is the maximum limit recommended by WHO. A salt reduction program is likely to avert much premature death and disability. (2, 3)
Here’s how you can reduce your salt intake:
- To begin with, add lesser salt to your food on a daily basis.
- Know which foods contain a high amount of salt. Check the food label before purchasing a food product.
- Packaged snack items contain a huge amount of salt. Stock up on snacks that contain less amount of added salt.
- Eat more natural foods and say no to packaged and processed foods.
- Replace sauces and dips with home-made chutneys.
- Do not add salt to salads and fruits. Enjoy the natural flavors of these foods.
Encourage Your Children to Eat Healthy Foods
Keep your children away from foods that have a high sodium content. Expose your child to natural foods. This will help him to develop a taste for natural foods and he/she can easily adjust to a low-salt diet in adulthood.
Limit Your Salt Intake
Limit your salt intake to less than one teaspoon per day. Replace salt-laden foods with natural foods. Add salt substitutes like lemon juice, black pepper powder, cumin seeds, and other herbs to enhance the taste of a low salt diet.