Hey guys!!! This is your girl, Hectoria. Today I want us to talk about edible salt, it’s benefits but most importantly its negative impact on our lives.
Growing up, there were two household ingredients my mum instilled in us to consider as bad to health, salt and sugar. You would always hear her saying “Yarum ka an songa” literally meaning in GurunƐ (Salt is not good). Wondering what language that is? Search la 😂. It got worse when my dad was diagnosed with Hypertension and was put on a strict diet. Looking back I wonder if it was his doctor who told him to cut out salt completely or he made his own decision to cut it out completely when he was told too much salt could worsen his condition. Unfortunately, he is not alive today to answer this question. Dr. Philip Nso Awekeya, God rest your soul. (Dad didn’t die of complications of Hypertension anyway. Long before his death, his Blood pressure measurements were very normal, even low if I should say).
It has so many benefits. That is our bodies need some amount of salt to function well. Therefore, salt at all is detrimental to our health while too much *of it is equally dangerous.
A study conducted among rural and urban folks in Ghana revealed that daily salt consumption was as high as 11.63g and 10.76g!!!🙆( Asibey-Berko and Orraca-Tetteh, 1995). Even more worrying is the salt consumption found among some undergraduate students of the University of Ghana, Legon where it was found to be 15g! (Aguree and Vuvor ,2007) 😢.
How much salt do you need in a day?
The world health organization recommends not more than 5g of salt in a day. This translates into less than a teaspoon of salt in a day!!! And in children less than 2.5g a day (half a teaspoon a day).
Looking at how we cook in Ghana, it makes it difficult to quantify how much salt you take in daily but we can start from somewhere. We cook a large Saucepan of soup with salty spices and condiments. We add salt and salty condiments to steam meat or chicken, or fish before adding to soups and stews. We then proceed to add in some salted beef, momoni, kobi, kako etc for extra taste and protein sources. We use salt water to wash vegetables and fruits 🤔. Haters will say it’s not true. Let’s not forget boiled maize and coconut steeped in salt solution (a. k. a brine). 😅. Infact, almost everything we eat from dawn to dusk already has salt or we add some salt to make it more flavorful!😝.
High salt intake is associated with increased risks of non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as Hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, cancers and kidney diseases… Little wonder NCDs are contributing to about 30-34% of mortalities in our country today? (Strategy for the Management, Prevention and Control of Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases in Ghana, 2012-2016).
The journey to reducing salt intake
“Something must kill a man” is the excuse some people give for indulging in excesses, but why die of something you have control over? Sometimes, it’s not about the death per se but the quality of life if you get some of these diseases. I know it’s not easy to just reduce salt intake overnight after so many years of indulgence. It will take time for you to adjust to this change. It will be a process or even a journey. But is very doable It sure is a journey but a very doable so don’t give up once you start.
1. Take salt out of breakfast! Keep salt out of corn porridges, rice waters, tom brown etc. It may taste funny and unusual in the beginning but trust me you will get used to it. If this is too difficult start by reducing your quantities.
2. Take salt out of your accompaniments. That is, don’t salt your yam, plantain, rice, potatoes etc. Let the salt in the soups and stews you eat these with suffice😁
3. Reduce the use of heavily salted meat and fish
4. Wash vegetables with vinegar rather than salt water
5. Don’t add salt to already cooked food. However the taste, please try not to add table salt. Keep dining areas free of table salt.
6. Cook your own food if you can as sold food is more likely to be salty. (Use this period of stay at home to try cook your own food with control of salt intake. 😋)
Reducing your salt intake over a week actually makes you appreciate this better.
In conclusion, reducing our daily salt intake has the potential to help us reduce our risks of developing chronic diseases such as Hypertension and cancers and also helps reduce blood pressure in those who already have it.
So guys, join the call to reduce salt intake!