Too much salt intake could be causing major heart diseases and more

A recent study shows that the Indian diet has a dangerous amount of salt intake that contributes to the raising rate of major heart problems

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February 28, 2017: Be it summer or winter, we Indians are bigtime fans of salty food. Snack time without munching on chatpata fries, samosas, chaats and other namkeens is out of our imaginations. Even though most of us are aware of the fact that too much salt is not good for our health, we often convince ourselves to turn a blind eye, or ignore health concerns to keep a check amidst all the celebrations and get-togethers. Just a little pinch of salt can transform an average dish into a lip-smacking treat. The reality is salt as an ingredient is not completely detrimental for our health. Natural forms of salt contain large amounts of various important minerals that can prove to be beneficial for us. But the refined variety, which is known as table salt and that’s what we use in our homes to cook our meals, is devoid of any goodness. So, consuming large quantities of refined table salt can escalate blood pressure and other ailments.

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According to a recent observation, we Indians love salt a little too much. The study which was conducted by an Australian firm has shown that an average Indian consumes about 119% more salt than the WHO recommendation. WHO guidelines suggest that salt intake of an individual should be limited to 2gm per day. The average intake by Indians was recorded to be 10.98 gms, more than 5 times the limit. This is alarming given the rising rate of Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs)in India in the recent year. Records show that between 2010 and 2013, around 23% of all deaths in India were caused by such Cardiovascular diseases.

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The study, conducted by George Institute of Global Health (GIGH), was published in The Journal of Hypertension. Doctors have always put importance on the discussions regarding the excess intake of Salt. Too much salt in your body can result in a High Blood Pressure, which in turn can become the cause of several other heart-related health hazards.

The World Health Organisation believes that high sodium consumption (more than 2 gm of sodium which is equivalent to 5 gm salt per day) and insufficient potassium intake (less than 3.5 gm per day) are the reasons behind high blood pressure and are more likely to increase the risk of stroke and heart disease.
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Dr Sanjay Kalra, Consultant Endocrinologist, Bharti Hospital, Karnal, and Vice President, South Asian Federation of Endocrine Societies, informed, “Processed and fast foods have become the norm since they are easier to make and carry, and consume. Consumption of pulses, fruits and vegetables has reduced.” A processed food diet is full of harmful fats, sugar, carbohydrates and excess salt leading to conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular illness.

He also mentioned, “High blood pressure can also lead to kidney failure by causing extra strain on the arteries.” The study has also noted that every measure of salt intake made in India except one has provided an estimate above the WHO-recommended maximum consumption level of 5 gm/day. The best estimate obtained by this meta-analysis suggests that average salt consumption in India is twice the recommended maximum level. Another relevant study, published in the British Medical Journal, has pointed out that the burden of several lifestyle disorders such as hypertension and heart disease can be reduced by a government-supported national policy on reducing sodium intake by 10 per cent over 10 years.

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According to Dr K K Aggarwal, National President, Indian Medical Association (IMA), “While sodium is needed by the body in certain amounts, an excess of it is very harmful. Excess salt is directly related to blood pressure. Increase in salt consumption raises the sodium level, thereby increasing blood pressure.” “It can also escalate the risk of major cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease, heart diseases, and strokes.

So it’s about time everyone should start keeping a strict watch on our salt intake.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang