Lighten up on Salt!

Posted on September 5, 2017 by Fiona Chia

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There is more hidden salt in your diet than you know. Most of the sodium consumed in Singapore is already hidden in processed foods and meals but there are simple ways that we can follow to reduce eating too much salt/sodium. High sodium diet has many implications on our health. Most importantly, it raises human blood pressure. High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular and kidney diseases. Sodium also plays a role in other related health problems such as osteoarthritis, cancer, asthma and obesity. Hence, lowering your sodium intake will only improve your health and reduce your risk of these chronic health problems.

It is very easy for Singaporeans to consume high amounts of salt in their diet. The average intake for Singaporeans is exceeding the recommended maximum salt intake by 60%. The recommended daily limit for sodium is 2000mg, which is equivalent to one teaspoon (5g) of salt or two tablespoons (30g) of light soy sauce. Salt and sauces added in the preparation of food and at the table contribute to most of the sodium we consume daily. Canned and processed foods also generally have high sodium content.

Singapore’s major sources of sodium are from sauces that were added to cooked dishes, bread, noodles, fish balls, fish cakes, crab sticks, processed meats (e.g. ham, sausages). Be wary when you eat more than two of these ingredients and especially sauces and condiments as they contain a lot of sodium. In Singapore, about 2/3 of the population dine out every day. Some of our hawker foods contain more salt than that of food products. For example, a plate of char kway teow will easily have 3.6g of salt (1440mg sodium) while a bowl of prawn noodles soup consists of 6.6g of salt (2640mg sodium). Therefore, just easily having two meals at the hawker or food courts will cause any individual to exceed their dietary limits.

How to lower your salt intake?

1. Eat fresh, unprocessed foods. Buy fresh foods over processed, canned or cured foods.
2. Limit the intake of processed snacks and treats
3. Read the labels! Food labels indicate how much sodium a food product contains. Hence, reading the labels when shopping helps to find out if there are better alternatives.
3. Choose items carrying the Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS)
4. Seasoning your foods naturally – use natural flavors and herbs/spices. Using less salt does not mean making the food less tasty. Rather, use a wide variety of natural flavors that salt used to mask.