Salt is one of the most damaging substances our bodies can face as it affects multiple organs spread throughout our body. Our kidneys, brain, arteries and hearts are at risk if your intake is excessive. The resulting problems are high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
What does salt do to your body?
Kidneys are responsible for turning excess water from our bloodstream into the bladder where it is turned into urine. For your kidneys to work properly they need an even balance between potassium and sodium to keep transferring the excess water into the bladder.
According to Blood Pressure UK, salt is responsible for an increase in the amount of sodium in your blood, making it a lot harder for the kidneys to perform their function. The added sodium puts pressure on the kidneys and can lead to increased blood pressure levels. Over time, this can turn into kidney disease, which if untreated can lead to kidney failure.
This process can take years, but over time raised blood pressure can result in burst or clogged arteries, leading to a lack of essential oxygen and nutrients for the rest of your organs.
Avoiding excessive salt intake
Avoiding salt is hard to do, due to the amount of processed foods which contain high levels of it. The NHS recommends shopping specifically for foods which are known to contain little amounts of salt. The easiest way to do so is to pay closer attention to what the labels on the packaging of your food display.
A staggering 80% of the salt an average adult consumes comes from processed foods, when compared to the numbers associated with home cooked meals. A daily dose of salt in your diet is still ok, but it should not be more than 6g.
Foods to avoid
You should try and avoid cured meats and fish, tinned vegetables that are already salted, certain cheeses (those types that contain high levels of salt such as Feta and Halloumi) and condiments (such as Mayonnaise, Ketchup and Mustard).
Pre-packaged snacks are usually where most of our daily salt intake comes from but you can buy versions of these that contain far less amounts of salt. The best option though, is to avoid these entirely and focus on eating much healthier snacks such as fruit and vegetables.
Cooking at home
To reduce the intake of salt at home a good idea is to substitute it altogether with other types of seasonings that are healthier. We suggest using something like black pepper which will give your dish something different and ensure that the food isn’t bland.
Herbs and spices are also very good alternatives. Try and add things like garlic, rosemary, basil, ginger or chilli. Another way to reduce salt intake and eat healthier is to change the way you cook your meals. Why not try baking or roasting your meat instead of throwing it all in the pan with oil? This will help bring out the natural flavours in food much more - and keep it much healthier.