The unsalted truth!

The House of Representatives talks about less salt in the diet. The Consumers' Association, the Heart Foundation and the Kidney Foundation took action to get more attention for this. Last week, the supermarkets and meat industry announced that they want to reduce salt content in meat products by 10 percent over the next two years. No revolution, but an important step.

But what exactly is it and why is not much salt good for health? The Vitamin (and minerals!) Information Bureau explains how it is.

What is salt and what is it good for?

Salt is the best known salt in the diet and consists of sodium and chloride. The mineral sodium is necessary for a good balance in the fluid balance of the body, for the contraction of the muscles and for the nerve stimulation. In addition, sodium makes an important contribution to the regulation of blood pressure, together with the mineral potassium. Chloride (chlorine) is necessary together with sodium and potassium for the fluid balance of the body.

How much do you need?

You will no longer need 1.5 grams of kitchen salt per day to meet your needs. For adults the advice is to get no more than 6 grams of salt per day. For children, this varies between 1 and 6 grams, depending on age.
But the average Dutchman gets around 9 grams daily. Way too much, so. Research shows that many products still contain too much salt.

What is the risk of too much salt?

Too much salt is bad for health. Too much sodium causes the kidneys and heart to work extra hard, which can cause high blood pressure. An excess of sodium therefore increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. This applies to everyone, but especially to people who are overweight and older people.
By the way: It is a myth that we have to get extra salt with very hot weather. Our food contains enough salt. Using extra additive is not necessary even when it is extremely hot.

Where does all that salt come from?

Especially from food prepared by the manufacturer. Notorious is the ready-to-eat pizza, but also in soup, for example, there is a lot of salt. The same applies to snacks such as cocktail nuts, and of course for smoked sausages and meat products. And even in sweet candies it is. Three-quarters of the salt that we ingest every day is hidden in that type of food. About 10% of the salt is naturally in the food and the remaining 15% we add ourselves during cooking and eating.

Is there an alternative?

Many people think that sea salt is a good alternative to kitchen salt. Unfortunately: sea salt also consists of sodium chloride. Salt mixes are also available today, containing a mixture of sodium and potassium salt. Potassium lowers the blood pressure-boosting effect of sodium. Potassium salt is a bit more bitter than kitchen salt.
The new initiative to use less salt in meat products is a step in the right direction, although ten percent less is not enough to reduce the use sufficiently. You will therefore have to work on that yourself. The best tips: make your own food, from fresh produce, be cautious with salty snacks and sprinkle as little food over your food as possible.

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