The chemical name of salt is "sodium". Salt is added in cooking and in processing food. In general, many people consume too much salt and one of the reasons is that there is so much processed foods and fast foods on the market.
A small amount of sodium is required for our body:
- It can help balance the water levels in our bodies
- It can help the transmission of nervous system signals
- It can help regulate muscle contraction and relaxation
The kidneys regulate the amount of salt that we consume. When salt is ingested, the kidneys will help us preserve all the salt. However, if the salt intake is too high, the kidney will expel the excess in our urine.
If the kidneys are unable to excrete excess sodium, sodium will begin to accumulate in our blood. Since sodium has the function of absorbing water, "blood + water" causes an increase in the amount of fluid. As a result, the heart uses more force to pump blood, and the pressure on the vascular artery increases. Therefore, if we consume too much salt, more than the body can tolerate, there will be a series of side effects, including edema and high blood pressure. High blood pressure is one of the causes of heart failure or heart disease. .
Since there are many processed and convenient foods on the market, we need to carefully consider and calculate what we choose. It is important to make relative adjustments to our eating habits to minimize the salt intake.
In order to reduce the daily salt intake, we need to have a clear understanding of the sodium content of the food (see Table 1 - 3 main sources of sodium). It is important to note that 75% of the sodium comes from prepared or processed foods (see Table 2 - Sodium in some commonly processed foods).
How much salt do we need? Usually we need 1.5-2.5 grams per day. The sodium content of a teaspoon of salt has reached 2.3 grams.
We will show you how to reduce the daily intake of salt, which foods have a high sodium content and how to make delicious dishes with less salt.
Content by Jenny Ho, Registered Dietitian