In the list of ingredients of many recipes, we often read “QB”. An acronym that refers to the amount of salt to be used and means “enough”. “Qb” is, however, a completely subjective measure, for those accustomed to tasty. And well-seasoned dishes it can often result in a higher salt consumption than the recommended daily dose.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a daily dose of salt that is at most 5 grams, corresponding to about 2 grams per day of sodium. In nutritional terms, sodium is a micronutrient. Whose function in the body is to control arterial pressure, blood volume, and nutrient absorption.
For children, the WHO also recommends that the daily dose of salt be adapted to the height, weight, and energy consumed.
In the overall calculation of daily salt consumption, the sodium content not only in food. But also in beverages should also be taken into consideration. On average, more than 10 grams of salt per day is consumed in Italy, which is definitely too much for the well-being of our body. Furthermore, according to European Commission estimates, the amount of salt present in industrial foods. Or consumed outside the home is greater than 75% of that added in home preparations.
Are salt, cholesterol and cardiovascular risk connected?
Excessive daily intake of salt and therefore of sodium can determine, especially if predisposed, an increase in blood pressure, with a consequent increase in the risk of the onset of serious cardio-cerebrovascular diseases related to arterial hypertension, such as myocardial infarction and cerebral stroke.
Is there a correlation between salt consumption and cholesterol levels?
Let’s start by pointing out that the cholesterol level certainly does not increase. If our daily salt consumption is higher than the requirement. As the salt itself has no significant effects on the metabolism of lipoproteins, molecules responsible for transporting cholesterol. And triglycerides in the blood. However, it should be kept in mind that some salty foods may also contain fats. Which can affect cholesterol levels (for example, cheeses)?
What is certain is that the salt (or rather, the sodium contained in the salt. Which represents about 40% by weight) is responsible for raising the values of arterial pressure. Which, as is known, are related to an increase in cardiovascular risk. The result is that if the cholesterol is high. And even the arterial pressure is the probability of incurring a cardiovascular disease over time increases.
If the cholesterol is high, therefore, the attention to the salt in the diet must be greater: not because the cholesterol can rise further. But because otherwise, it adds an additional (and unwanted) element of risk of hypertension. And cardiovascular in general.
If you are at risk, it is therefore important to maintain a balanced. And controlled diet low in salt, possibly also integrating the consumption of some natural products such as certain probiotic strains. And of fermented red rice extract containing Monacolin K, a substance that helps to maintain its values at physiological levels.
Furthermore, it has been shown that consumption of salt higher than the daily dose is also associated with the onset of other chronic degenerative diseases, such as tumors of the digestive system, in particular, those of the stomach, osteoporosis and kidney diseases.
Salt consumption: how to behave?
Also this year as for the past ones, the Italian Society of Human Nutrition (SINU) supported the “Salt Awareness Week” in Italy, the World Week for Salt Reduction (“More health with less salt and less sugar”) , in March 2019), an appointment promoted for the eleventh year of WASH (World Action on Salt & Health).
Here are some practical tips to reduce or control the daily dose of salt:
-In general, the best strategy is to use common sense, trying to limit, for example, the use of salt in domestic food preparation. In this sense, the first step is to acquire an awareness of one’s habitual salt consumption by measuring the excretion of sodium determined in the urine. Or through a specific questionnaire, so as to be able to realize the gap between one’s level of intake and that of recommended (<5g / day).
-Reduce the consumption of salt for all family members gradually. So as to allow everyone’s taste to gradually adapt to the lower salt content. And, therefore, sodium content in the food.
-To be aware and not only of the quantity of salt we add to the food in the kitchen. While we are cooking, and at the table, when we consume. But also of that present in the already packaged foods that we buy as ready products, reading the labels.
-Be informed about the main sources of salt in food products that are part of our diet, such as bread, sausages, cheeses, meat, fish, canned products and so on. So you can learn to understand which of them are the most important for our diet and needs.
-Check from time to time the results of our efforts to reduce salt intake, again measuring urinary excretion or reviewing questionnaire responses.
-Do not add salt to children’s meals, at least throughout the first year of life.
-Limit the use of alternative sodium seasonings such as the stock cube, ketchup, soy sauce, mustard, etc.
-Learn to flavor foods with aromatic herbs. And spices such as onion, basil, parsley, rosemary, sage, mint, lemon balm, oregano, marjoram, celery, leek, thyme, fennel seeds, pepper, chili pepper, nutmeg, saffron, curry.
-Learn to enhance the flavor of foods using extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and vinegar.
-Choose, when available, low-salt product lines such as salt-free bread, fresh non-aged cheeses, skim milk, low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, ricotta, fresh vegetables, etc.
-Only occasionally consume processed foods rich in salt. Such as salty snacks, potato chips in the bag, table olives, salted anchovies, some cured meats, and aged cheeses, etc.
-If you practice a moderate sport, reintegrate the fluids lost through sweating with water.