Salt intake: Indians consume more than 100% of daily recommended amount

Excessive consumption of salt can lead to high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

By Zee Media Bureau | Last Updated: May 01, 2017, 13:39 PM IST
Salt intake: Indians consume more than 100% of daily recommended amount

New Delhi: Salt is a necessary and essential ingredient that is required for the regulation of important bodily functions.

But excessive consumption of salt can lead to high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), adults consume less than 5g (just under a teaspoon) of salt per day. For children and babies, salt intakes sould be much lower than this. For instance, babies under 12 months old should have less than g of salt a day.

Unlike other international communities who are sticking to high-salt diets despite knowing the health risks, Indians are modifying their diets although people in India consume 9% more salt than the global average - 10.06 gm, says a study.

The India-centric study on salt intake, which was led by Claire Johnson, a research fellow with The George Institute for Global Health, Australia, shows cutting down on salt would benefit Indians significantly.

India’s health gains could be “enormous,” Johnson told IndiaSpend, if we could cut our average salt/sodium intake by 30%.

This would reduce the impact of excessive salt intake on the health.

IndiaSpend reported on November 7, 2016 that according to an earlier Johnson-led study, the average Indian consumes 10.98 gm salt a day, which is over twice the WHO-recommended upper limit of 5 gm per day.

Johnson noted that Indians are eating less pulses, fruits and vegetables and lots more processed and fast foods, and as a result, their diets now include excess salt, sugars and harmful fats - which are all major risk factors for high blood pressure, obesity and cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack and stroke.

Earlier on June 15, 2015, IndiaSpend reported that one in four Indians succumbed to cardiovascular disease in 2012. Hypertension or high blood pressure is a a leading cause of cardiovascular disease.

Sodium is found naturally in a variety of foods, such as milk, meat and shellfish. It is often found in high amounts in processed foods such as breads, processed meat and snack foods, as well as in condiments such as soy source, fish source.

Reducing salt intake can be one of the most cost-effective measures countries can take to improve population health outcomes.

An estimated some 2.5 million deaths could be prevented each year if global salt consumption were reduced to the recommended level, as per WHO.