Whether it is present on the surface of our food or less noticeably included as an ingredient, salt is one of the most common ingredients found in the things we eat. Some of us might know that we are pouring endlessly over our fish and chips, while the rest of us can live blissfully unaware of the amount of salt entering our bodies each and every day.
You see, worrying about the respective levels of our macro and micronutrients is not only advisable, but fashionable too. And seeing as the media gets blamed for so much already, it would be unfair to not blame it for this too.
Being all too aware of how much protein, carbohydrates and fats that we eat seems fairly normal now. We know to limit fats and sugars, while still appreciating that they must be present in a healthy diet. Naturally, if we are to thank the media for this increase in education then we must condemn them for the areas in which they have left us uneducated, i.e. salt.
The thing is, salt is neither a micro or a macronutrient. In fact salt, or sodium chloride, is is an element that is added to food, once to preserve and now to flavour the things that we consume.
Diets that are particularly high in salt are closely associated with high blood pressure and, as a result, the diseases that come along with it, namely heart disease and strokes. And it is thought that anymore than just six grams of salt a day for adults will help to cause a rise in blood pressure.
Well, no bother, just take a look at the labels on our food and keep track of how much we are getting. Oh, if only it was that simple. Can’t find salt on the nutrition label? I imagine you would usually just take the value for sodium instead then. Multiply that number by two-and-a-half and you will be much nearer to the actual amount of salt in the food.
And what about feeding our kids? What you will notice with recommended daily allowances on our food is that it tends to apply to the average intake of an adult, usually a male. But that doesn’t help us work out if our children are being exposed to too much salt, does it? Surely the food that is directly marketed towards children should have nutritional information on it that refers directly to their target audience.
Another thing to consider is that salt makes you thirsty. The more salt you eat, the more you will feel dehydrated. And if you are planning a late night gym session then you don’t want to be heading into it feeling thirsty because you have had far too much salt over the course of the day.
So what is the easiest way of keeping track of all the nutrients (and elements) that we consume over the course of a day/week/month etc.? Well the obvious answer is don’t let food companies make the decisions for you. If you buy as much of your food as you can from scratch then you will know exactly how much salt, sugar, oil etc. is being added.
Having someone to blame is great. You get this overwhelming relief of guilt and actually feel as if you have been mistreated in some way. Unfortunately it just isn’t sustainable. Not everyone is out to get us and food companies aren’t trying to find clever ways to trick the world into excessive consumption of salt and middle-aged hypertension. Grabbing the reins for your own nutrition will leave only one person who can be blamed for any/all failure – yourself!