Salty Facts - Part 2
Updated: Apr 2, 2018
Many people around the world think sodium is a necessary and healthy ingredient in our daily diet. However, a lower salt intake results in better arterial function and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Too much salt kills 4 million people worldwide every year and is therefore one of the most prominent dietary risks we take.
A tremendous risk of high blood pressure is not the only problem that comes with high salt intake. There is also gastric cancer, recurrent kidney stones, osteoporosis and obesity, not to mention direct renal, vascular and cardiac damage which are related to sodium. The link between salt and these medical conditions is well established.
But if the scientific evidence is so strong why are we still being told that salt is good for us and that we need it?
Because the industry puts pressure on the government.
Instead of changing the salt habit and taking herbs, spices and real ingredients such as berries or other fruits, the food industry wants people to believe that they urgently need salt to make meals more delicious and healthy. They put pressure on the government and “convince” them not to change people’s food habits. They have even developed certain methods to stop the government from recommending salt reduction. But why is the food industry so determined to promote salt?
1. Salt changes the water content in meat
By adding 2% more salt to sausages, for example, the weight of a sausage goes up by about 20% as it draws in water. This leads to a 20% higher price without raising the production costs. Of course, the ingredients could have been changed from salt to more herbs but this would result in lowering the weight of the sausages and the public would expect the price to decrease.
2. Salt makes you thirsty
Salt makes you thirsty as the body wants to get rid of all the sodium and tries to flush it out. There is a good reason why pubs and bars have salty snacks such as peanuts and why drink manufacturers own companies that produce highly salted snacks.
3. Salt solubilises muscle proteins
Through solubilising muscle proteins with salt, gel can be formed and an optimum texture can be developed. As an alternative, they could use meat glue, however, this may leave a bitter aftertaste in the meat. That could be helped by adding a bitter blocking chemical to the meat which changes our taste receptors and prevents the information from reaching our brain. But why bother when salt is so cheap and any substitute will push up the production price?
4. Blood pressure is big business
If people stop consuming salt, not only the food industry but also the health industry would feel it in their bottom line. Eating clean food results in staying healthy and there is no longer any need of doctors, pharmaceuticals or hospitals.
Sure, not all illnesses are food related and some people would still suffer from health issues. But the big health market would fall apart as only a minority of the population would need medical assistance.
So, what can you do to reduce your daily salt intake?
Lowering your sodium consumption is much easier than it sounds. You can simply stop adding salt when cooking and using herbs and spices instead. Or you do not add salt to your food before you have tasted it. You can also avoid processed foods that have sodium added but if you really want processed food only go for meals, snacks and drinks that have less than 0.1 g of sodium per 100 g.
Unfortunately, to control your salt intake while eating out is nearly impossible. If you are dining out, you can either call the restaurant ahead and ask them to make you a delicious salad or eat at home beforehand so you don’t make bad choices when you are out.
All in all, the healthiest foods are not labelled. You can prepare or cook fresh fruit or vegetables easily yourself and add amazing flavours by using ingredients such as pepper, onion, garlic, mint, tomato, sweet pepper, basil, parsley, dill, thyme, celery, lime, cumin, cinnamon, chilli, fennel, nettle, rosemary, smoke flavouring (e.g. paprika), curry, coriander, and lemon.
To cook and bake without salt takes a bit of practice at the beginning but after a few attempts, the freshly prepared food will taste better than ever.
Take the first step and enjoy the journey of re-awakening your taste buds!
Sonja from SOS free