SALT VS HYPERTENSION
High blood pressure or hypertension in Malaysia is getting more and more concerning these days. 1 in every 3 of Malaysians above the age of 18 suffers from hypertension, without even realising as it is symptomless. Hypertension is when your blood pressure reads 140 over 90 mmHg, higher than the normal 120 over 80 mmHg. It leads to many major illnesses such as heart attack, stroke and end stage kidney disease – among Malaysia’s “top killers” to-date.
One of its main contributing factors is high intake of salt in our daily diets, so the best way to reduce harm would be cutting down your salt intake. According to the NHS United Kingdom, an adult person should eat no more than 6g of salt a day, which is equivalent to 1 teaspoon. But of course, it is easier said than done.
How do we know the amount of salt a food product has? The rule of thumb is simple; if it’s packaged, it contains salt. Reading the label might give you a little idea on its salt content, but you might want to take it with a pinch of salt, as it is not directly written, unlike sugar. Generally, only the content of sodium will be stated.
Therefore, to calculate the exact amount of salt in a product, you need to see the content of sodium first, and then multiply it by 2.54 and divide the subtotal with 1000. Well, there’s a more thorough explanation behind this formula, involving the atomic mass for all its chemical components, which could potentially drive your blood pressure up, so it is best to just remember this equation:
Sodium (mg) x 2.54 ÷ 1000.
Processed food said to contain higher amount of salt, so reducing such food would be a good first step. Avoid especially the ‘salty six’ – breads and rolls, processed meats, processed or non-organic poultry, canned soups, pizza, and sandwiches or burgers from fast-food restaurants. Instead, eat more fruits and vegetables, and drink whole lot more plain water.
You might also want to try replacing salt in your cooking with herbs, spices or condiments that could deliver the same taste but with better nutrients such as garlic, lemon juice, ginger, balsamic vinegar and many others. Most natural ingredients are already tasty on their own, so these herbs would just help raise their flavour, not your blood pressure.