The World Week for Reducing Salt Consumption is ongoing until March 26th, a campaign promoted by the World Action on Salt and Health (WASH) to raise public awareness of such an important issue for public health.
Excessive salt consumption in fact causes an increase in blood pressure, with a consequent increase in the risk of the onset of serious cardiovascular pathologies related to hypertension (such as myocardial infarction and cerebral stroke); it is also associated with other chronic-degenerative diseases, such as digestive tumors, in particular stomach tumors, as well as osteoporosis and kidney disease.
Beware of “hidden salt”
On the occasion of the Campaign, the Italian Association of Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition pointed out the risks of “hidden salt” in the typical dishes of lunch break and provided some suggestions to reduce salt in the preparation of food. We talk about it with Dr. Manuela Pastore, dietician in Humanitas.
Some typical lunch break dishes, although may appear light enough, can hide a high amount of sodium, especially due to the ingredients and condiments that make them up; this is the case of sandwiches, toast, wraps, rice and pasta salads or salads.
Salt is already naturally present in almost all foods, including vegetables, while it is not present in fruit. It is not often evident and is not easy to identify. Theoretically, we should not add salt to food preparations, but by now we are so accustomed that we struggle to avoid it. Reducing it, however, is important and gradually our taste sensitivity will adapt to the new tastes, even if initially the dishes may appear less tasty or “without salt”.
Suggestions to reduce salt:
- Prefer low-salt bread.
- Reduce or avoid seasonings such as soy sauce, ketchup or mustard.
- When cooking pasta, add less salt than usual and do it when the water has just started to boil.
- Prefer herbs, spices, lemon and vinegar as a condiment for vegetables, meat and fish.
- During snacks, consume fruit or yoghurt instead of snacks or packed products.
- Do not add salt to the ordered dishes at the bar or restaurant (first courses, single dishes or cooked second courses, cooked or already seasoned side dishes) and do not even include it at the table after serving.
- If you want to add a bit of salt, prefer the whole meal or pink salt of the Himalayas.