Excessive consumption of salt is a reality in Portugal. The Portuguese consume an average of 10.7 grams of salt per day, according to a study conducted by VisaWhich is double the amount recommended by health authorities.
Such excessive consumption can be a trigger for various diseases. “When we reduce salt intake, we reduce deaths from stroke (cerebrovascular accidents),” explains Hilda Freitas, MD, internal medicine physician (graduated hospital assistant).
“Excessive consumption of salt can lead to high blood pressure, which leads to cardiovascular disease and stroke. In an interview with SIC Notícias, the doctor said that it increases the risk of dementia, kidney disease (and kidney stones) and osteoporosis because it causes calcium to be spoiled by urine.
In 2020, according to data from portadataIn Portugal, circulatory diseases (which includes stroke, hypertension and heart failure) were the leading cause of death (28%). But excessive salt consumption can be a risk factor for other diseases.
Excessive salt intake is also linked to the development of stomach cancer. He explained that there are certain areas in Portugal where a lot of sausage is eaten, and in these areas, there is a higher prevalence of stomach cancer.”
According to Hilda Freitas, obesity, premature aging and fluid retention can be problems associated with salt consumption. “If people want to lose weight, they should reduce their salt intake,” he said.
In 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO)Who is the) Determined a 30% reduction in salt/sodium intake for all member countries, including Portugal. The goal is to have the average population consume less than 5 grams of salt (less than 2 grams of sodium) per day by 2025.
It is estimated that 11 million deaths worldwide are related to poor diet, three million of which are attributable to high sodium intake.
Salt substitutes .. How to replace them with meals?
Spices and herbs such as thyme or basil can be substituted for salt. “There are so many herbs that people can combine, it’s a matter of experience,” Hilda Freitas said. Lemon can also work well in fish dishes.
“Changing habits is harder than taking a pill,” the doctor said, noting that residents are socially educated to have a certain kind of taste.
- Taste the food while it is cooking to avoid over-spicing it;
- Pay attention – or avoid as much as possible – already prepared sauces and seasonings;
- Try seasoning meat, fish, and salads with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar.
- Gradually reduce the salt. sudden changes may not work;
- Do not add salt to french fries. You can choose to make a homemade sauce.
Eating is a physiological need, but also a source of pleasure. So start by reducing the salt gradually and experimenting with different spices and herbs.
Sodium (salt) is essential to the proper functioning of the human body, but fresh foods already contain the levels of sodium we really need – and there’s no need to add it.
What foods have the highest amount of salt and what should be avoided?
What do the labels tell us?
When you go shopping, it is important to check the amount of salt on the product label. In what ways can the name salt appear?
- salt content;
- sodium chloride (NaCl);
- Na (chemical symbol for sodium);
- monosodium glutamate
- Sodium bicarbonate;
- Sodium sulfate
- Disodium Phosphate
- SODUIM hydroxide
- Sodium propionate.
The Portuguese Society of Hypertension advises residents to avoid buying products that contain more than 5% of the recommended daily allowance (DRR) of sodium or with more than 1.5 grams of salt per 100 grams.
However, according to the World Health Organization, it is necessary to move forward with the reduction of salt in food products. In recommendations for 2021, the health organization has evaluated the details of thousands of products, categorized them, and issued new targets (see over here categories and recommended salt intake for each one). If you go to the pantry or refrigerator, you will have no trouble finding products with higher salt levels (some much higher) than the WHO targets.
The World Health Organization recommends limiting salt intake for children to 3 grams per day, which is 2 grams less than the recommended amount for adults. Children should not consume foods with added salt at all.
Data from studies developed in recent years are not encouraging. The later children are exposed to salt, the less likely they are to develop high blood pressure. However, according to Dice Published by the Portuguese Society of Hypertension, about 12.8% of children and young adults between the ages of 5 and 18 have high blood pressure.
Another study completed in 2017 and conducted by Doctor Jorge Cotter at Hospital de Guimarães revealed that about 60% of the 300 children who took part in the research consume more salt than their parents, who in turn already have excessive consumption.
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