Beware of the salt you consume

Written By: Ian Chepkuto
288

Dangers of using large quantity of salt in food is still high in Kenya
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In most of our cooking, one way or the other we consume salt knowing or unknowingly, the dangers of using large quantity of salt in food is very high.

Table Salt (NaCl) is one of the cheapest locally-made commodity in Kenya, with its products silently dominating markets.

Its manufacturing companies are the most trusted making it easier to be ahead of foreign market.

Because of its demand both domestic and commercial use, its production has satisfied the needs of consumers therefore gaining advantage in the market.

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It is for this reason that it has never been exploited, its durability and packaging is convenient, the smallest packet goes for Sh5 for decades making it a premium product in our shelves.

It is the one household item hustlers or bachelors rarely complain about, a packet bought in January can lasts for months without smelling or expiring.For a fact, a neighbour can beg for spoonful of a Tea-leaves, sugar or even a packet of unga but never a packet of table salt.

What is table salt made of?

Salt is a compound mineral comprising of sodium Chloride (NaCl), it is a chemical compound belonging to the larger class of salt. Salt in its natural form is known as rock salt.

A large quantity of salt is found in seawater and open ocean with about 35 grams (1.2 oz) of solids per liter of sea water and a salinity of 3.5%.

Result of Salt abusing

Over the past century, salt consumption has been subjected of intense scientific research related to blood pressure elevation and cardiovascular mortalities.

The shocking revelations associated with poor salt-consumptions reveals that, the affordable commodity still the biggest public-health scares, no health agency or company has come out to educate consumers on its effects.

Excessive consumptions of Table Salt (NaCl) leads to complications in blood vessels, it narrows vessels therefore affecting the amount of pressure in blood hence, causing high blood pressure.

Many Kenyans have high blood pressure without knowing it because, they have never gone for check-ups.

In United Kingdom, the Food Standard Agencies defines that the salt level in food as follows: ‘High is more than 1.5g per salt 100g (or 0.6g Sodium).

Low is 0.3g salt or less per 100g (or0.1g sodium), If the amount of salt per 100g is in between these figures, then that is a medium level of salt’

A US committee reported in 2013 the common recommendation by several authorities ‘to reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg and further reduce intake to 1,500 mg among persons who are 51 years and older and those of any age who are African-American or have Hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease’ but concluded that there was no health-outcome-based rationale for reducing intake below 2,300mg, and did not have recommendation for upper limit.

A moderate reduction of salt intake is the leading measure to control salt related diseases.

Worldwide, medical scholars, academic society and media personnel still point out the benefits of salts restrictions as the major health care in the world.

World Health Organization (WHO) recommends reduction of dietary salt intake as the top priority to control global communicable diseases, it is estimated that globally 62% of Cerebrovascular diseases and 49% of ischaemic heart diseases were attributed by poor salt consumption However, some scientists still advocate the possibility of increase of blood pressure and cardiovascular mortality at extreme of low salt intake.

According to the Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr Rashid Abdi Aman, the cardiovascular diseases is the leading infections in Kenya contributing to high mortality rate, one in every four Kenyans lives with hypertension hence 90% of those seeking treatments have not fully controlled this disease.

Beside salt menace, high blood pressure escalates with smoking and drinking alcohol.

It raises blood pressure and heart rate, narrows arteries and hardens their walls therefore making blood to clot.

The worse is, it stresses the heart and sets the heart for heart-attack or stroke.

Surprisingly, Ministry of Health reveals that over four million Kenyans smoke while nine million take alcohol.

Salt abuse is therefore needing to be addressed so that salt related diseases and complications are prevented.

Recommendations 

Health recommendations states that, correct salt consumption should be followed, salt should be added to food while still boiling or in frying pan to allow it uniformly to dissolve well.

In Kenya’s eateries customers can use salt directly in a ready-served meal making it hard to control amount salt level in the food.

The most abused foods are fast-moving consumer foods such as chips and snacks, Nyama Choma and some processed foodstuff which will require addition salt even after packaging.

It is advisable to minimize salt taking in our daily meal by ensuring that food which we cook have enough quantity of salt.

Drinking enough amount of water is another essential measure in minimizing excess salt in our bodies.

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