Too much salt puts pressure on our kidneys and leads to high blood pressure. County Medical Officer of Health for County Caroni Dr Jeanine St Bernard said as Trinidad and Tobago and the world celebrates Salt Awareness Week from March 11-17, the population needs to concentrate on reducing salt intake.
Speaking at the Health Ministry’s media briefing on Wednesday, St Bernard said the recommended daily intake of sodium was one teaspoon of salt or 2,300 mg of sodium. She said for people with high blood pressure, the recommended dose was even less. She gave several tips for reducing salt intake.
“Many of us use salt to flavour our food. We already get salt in our packaged and processed food but then we add more salt. So many of the foods we eat here in TT, like chow and salt prunes, have excess salt. Reduce or avoid packaged and processed food.
“Read your food labels to see how much sodium is on the packaged foods. Also be aware of serving size in a package. Avoid products with more than 200 mg of sodium per serving. For heart health, try for less than 1,000 mg of added salt daily. Eat fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, fresh poultry and meat, as cooking things yourself helps you control the amount of salt in your diet. Use spices and herbs for flavour, we have so many of those at hand.”
St Bernard said pink Himalaya salt and sea salt could be used as alternatives to regular salt as they contained less salt, but people should be careful to incorporate other sources of iodine into their diet.
She encouraged people to cook more at home if possible. She said for people who were busy, cooking meals once or twice a week that could be used more than once was an option. She said if people had to buy food, they should aim for healthier options and sides.
St Bernard said the pandemic had shown how important it was to reduce the incidence of hypertension and other non-communicable diseases in the population.