Salt Consumption and Health!

Sodium is abundant in most foods and can be described as natural food salt. Sodium accounts for the most part of table or common salt. Salt, or sodium chloride, is used in food preparation thanks to its flavoring properties, as well as in food storage so as to prevent conditions like mold growth or infestation.
Salt shouldn’t be added to foods before checking their flavor, and foods with excessive salt should be avoided.
Sodium provides some health benefits as it plays a role in balancing fluids in organisms and in regulating blood pressure. Still, it must be taken into consideration that the overuse of salt is related to high blood pressure, or hypertension. Excessive salt consumption increases the discharge of calcium through urine, resulting in a loss of calcium from the bones. It is known that calcium loss increases the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. Therefore, don’t add salt to foods before checking their flavor, and avoid foods high in salt.

How to cut down on salt?

Salt is one of the vital minerals for life and found naturally in food. It has essential duties in regulating blood pressure, adjusting body fluid balance, and in muscle and nerve functions. Caution should be exercised when using additional salt, which is found naturally in food. It is of major importance that patients with particularly hypertension or cardiovascular diseases restrict daily salt consumption.

According to the study published by the Turkish Society of Hypertension and Renal Diseases in 2012, daily consumption of salt in Turkey is around 15 g. According to the 2012 WHO guidelines on sodium intake in adults and children, the recommended daily salt intake should be below 5 mg. These figures make it evident that salt consumption levels are high in Turkey.

The way to cut intake is to limit the salt added to meals and eat less high-salt foods such as pickles and crackers. Recent studies show that salt consumption can also be lowered by adding spices and fresh herbs to meals. Research at the University of Reading in the U.K. demonstrated that the various herbs and seasonings used in low-salt ready-to-eat soups were part of the reason they were preferred by consumers. A reduced amount of salt in ready-to-eat soups resulted in consumer dissatisfaction, however the addition of fresh herbs and spices to low-salt soups elicited positive feedback about taste.

In the study, 160 people were grouped according to their age, sex and socioeconomic status. Participants’ daily sodium intake was measured through an eating frequency survey and urine samples. Three groups were given tomato soup. The first group tried tomato soup with the standard amount of salt. The second group was given soup that had 57 percent less salt, but supplemented with spices and herbs such as oregano, bay leaves, garlic and black pepper. The last group was presented with tomato soup that had 57 percent less salt than the standard soup, but no extra seasoning. It was concluded that the group that tried the tomato soup with fresh herbs and spices every day for five days or longer “tasted the salt,” bringing up the level of approval for this soup.

Researchers in Brazil conducted a similar study with individuals of regular and high blood pressure. They gave a variety of breads of different salt concentrations to participants aged from 63 to 79. People with the highest blood pressure preferred the saltiest bread. Two weeks later, they added oregano to the bread with the same salt concentration. With the addition of oregano, the participants’ preference for this saltier bread decreased. In conclusion, the addition of spices and fresh herbs had an effect on eating preferences.

As these two studies demonstrate, the amount of salt can be reduced in bread across the board to limit the use of salt in our country. Additionally, you can create your own personal “salt revolution” by seasoning your food with spices and herbs. This will mitigate problems such as high blood pressure, while allowing you to enjoy your meals without compromising the flavor.


Dietary Guidelines for Turkey, 2004


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