How to cut back on salt in your diet, even when dining out

How to cut back on salt in your diet, even when dining out
(Photo: Pixabay)

When it comes to salt, most Singaporeans consume way more than the recommended amount of 5g, or about 1 teaspoon. In fact, their salt intake is almost double that amount, with an average adult in Singapore consuming about 9g of salt daily, according to the Ministry of Health.

Excess salt is harmful for your health because of the sodium it contains (5g of salt has about 2,000 mg of sodium).

While sodium is a mineral that is essential for bodily functions – it helps in the contraction of muscles, maintains the balance of fluids and transmits nerve impulses – excess sodium is a known cause of high blood pressure which in turn can lead to heart disease and stroke. High salt intake has also been linked to stomach cancer and osteoporosis.

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Sodium, potassium and blood pressure

When the level of sodium in your body is high, your kidneys excrete any excess in the urine. However, if your kidneys can’t eliminate the excess sodium for some reason, it will build up in your blood, cause fluid retention and lead to an increase in blood volume. This will cause your blood pressure to rise.

Potassium has the opposite effect on blood pressure. It relaxes blood vessels and promotes the excretion of sodium, which helps lower blood pressure.

A 2011 study of American adults found that individuals with the highest sodium intake had a 20 per cent higher risk of death than those with the lowest.

5 ways to cut back on sodium at home
Eat more fresh vegetables and fruits, which are naturally high in potassium and low in sodium
Limit high-salt foods, e.g. anchovies, bacon, salami, cheese, olives, pickles, salted nuts, salted eggs, stock cubes, frozen meals
Limit sauces, dressings and dips, e.g. soy sauce, ketchup, mustard
Reduce salt and use herbs and spices to season foods while cooking
Read labels and choose foods low in sodium and sodium-containing compounds such as monosodium glutamate (MSG). Avoid buying products with more than 200 mg of sodium per serving.
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5 ways to cut back on sodium while eating out
Avoid the soup and gravy in noodle/rice dishes
Choose chicken and vegetable toppings in your pizza instead of pepperoni, bacon and extra cheese
Opt for chicken, egg and roasted vegetables in your sandwiches, instead of ham and cheddar cheese
Choose steamed rice instead of fried rice
While ordering a salad, ask for the dressing on the side

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