In France, salt consumption far exceeds the recommendations of the health authorities. But why do we eat too much salt, and above all, what can we do to significantly reduce the amount ingested to stay healthy?
Why do we eat too much salt?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends consumption of about 5g of salt per day(1), which is about one teaspoon. This includes the salt naturally present in food and the salt we use to season dishes. However, health authorities have estimated that today, the average amount of salt ingested by an adult is between 8 and 11g, sometimes double the health recommendation.
Our overly salty diet is not necessarily due to having too much table salt, which only accounts for about 25-30% of total salt consumption. The rest is mostly hidden in industrial food products. Typically, ready meals are often very high in salt.
You should also be wary of “light” foods and dishes or those that boast 0% fat. Without a minimum of fat, dishes are difficult to eat. Consequently, manufacturers hide the unattractive taste with quantities of sugar and salt.
Over-consumption of salt affects children less. Purees and dishes intended for children aged 0 to 2 years are strictly controlled to meet their nutritional needs. Be careful from 9 months to 3 years old, salt consumption should not exceed 2g per day.
The dangers of over-consumption of salt
Eating too much salt hurts your health. The WHO is based on scientific studies carried out on the subject and believes that eating too much salt in the diet significantly increases the risk of high blood pressure. This condition develops when the blood exerts constant and excessive pressure on the artery walls.
Hypertension is mostly asymptomatic but can lead to many cardiovascular problems(2). Common complications include stroke, heart failure, myocardial infarction, kidney failure and sometimes damage to the retina.
High blood pressure is common among overweight people. In patients with type 2 diabetes, hypertension is present in almost half of women and about one-third of men. Obese elderly people are also more likely to develop complications from high blood pressure than those of normal weight.
Aggravating factors include excessive salt intake. However, other reasons are also cited: physical inactivity, smoking, stress and obesity. To treat high blood pressure as early as possible, a healthier diet should be started as soon as possible.
How can I eat less salt?
Since eating too much salt is not good for your health, solutions must be found to reduce salt intake. Many people first decide to stop seasoning their food, but this is not necessarily a good idea.
The best solution is above all to ban all industrialized dishes from the plate. Not only do these dishes contain too much salt, but they also contain a certain amount of sugars, fats or additives that have no beneficial effect on health.
Table salt should be used in small doses. Putting it on vegetables that you have prepared yourself can’t do any harm. In case of high blood pressure, choose green vegetables, and avoid red meat as much as possible. Prefer lean meats or follow a vegetarian diet for a few months.
Also read: Why Is Too Much Sugar Bad for You?
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