If South Africans reduced their salt intake by as little as 0.85g per day, this could result in 7400 few deaths from heart diseases and strokes and 4300 fewer non-lethal strokes each year, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA.
This week marks Salt Awareness Week and the foundation has partnered with World Action on Salt and Health to encourage the public to lessen their daily salt intake.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends no more than 5g of salt intake per day. Excessive salt intake continues to be a global health concern, contributing to a growing blood pressure epidemic, resulting in cardiovascular disease, noted as one of the leading causes of death.
In South Africa, high blood pressure often goes undiagnosed and is poorly controlled, leading to preventable deaths from heart disease, kidney disease and strokes.
“It’s time we see restrictions on the marketing of unhealthy foods to children and what’s available to them at school where they spend most of their day,” said the foundation’s chief executive Pamela Naidoo.
Dietitian Gabrielle Lasker said salt intake in South Africa was estimated to be between 6 to 11g per day.
“Ways to reduce salt are by becoming more aware of salt intake by reading labels and ingredient lists, cooking more meals at home and flavouring meals with herbs and spices, lemon juice, vinegars, garlic and onion instead of using salt, and consuming less processed foods.”
She said buyers should be more aware of nutrition labels and what they are consuming on a regular basis.
“Generally, ingredients are mentioned from most to least and therefore if table salt, sodium chloride, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium nitrate or sodium bicarbonate are mentioned in the top three ingredients, this will most likely be a high-salt product.
“Consumers should also check the sodium content on the nutrition label and aim for foods that contain less than 120mg sodium per 100g serving.”