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Salt, Sodium, Singapore and the World. Keeping Food Tasty and Lowering the Risk of Chronic Illness.

Updated: Apr 16

salt sodium Singapore

We all love a little salt and it is an essential part of the diet. We also know that too much salt raises our blood pressure and increase the risk of chronic illness. So what can we do too keep the flavour of our food , enhance taste and cut back on salt at the same time?


When we discuss this issue: salt and sodium are not the same. Salt - table salt - is sodium chloride, 40% sodium and 60% chloride. When it comes to buying food, to is always useful to look at the nutrition panel on food packaging where the amount of sodium is stated.


As ever, please talk to your doctor or medical practitioner most familiar with your medical history before implementing any changes in diet, exercise or lifestyle, especially if you are under treatment. Links to supporting studies or resources are found at the end of page.

 

How Salty Are We? By Country...


The global average salt intake is more than twice recommended levels, with 2019 figures showing that the average person likely consumes the equivalent of two teaspoons (10.8 g) of salt a day in their diet, as opposed to the 5g that the WHO recommends.  Different countries have different acceptable maximum levels of salt intake, usually between 5 to 6g.

What's in a teaspoon of salt? 1 teaspoon is about 5g, this contains 2,000mg of sodium.

In Singapore, our home, residents consume about 9g of salt (3,620 mg of sodium) per day, as opposed to the recommend maximum daily intake of 5g salt (2,000mg sodium).


In comparison...


  • China: Northern Chinese tend to have higher salt intake (>14g per day) than their southern Chinese country mates (<9 g per day).

  • The average Australian gets around 9 grams of salt per day, that’s much more salt than their recommended upper limit of 6 grams per day.

  • Similarly, in the USA and UK, people on average consume around approximately 8.5 grams of salt (3,400mg sodium) versus their recommended maximum of 5.75g of salt (2,300 mg of sodium).


Most people are typically consuming 50% more salt than needed. As these numbers are averages, some people are eating a lot more! What is the damage? Apart from hypertension, affecting over 1 in 3 adult Singapore residents, salt is a major risk factor for cardiovascular (heart) disease and stroke, kidney disease and stomach cancer.

 
herbs spices salt Singapore

How to reduce salt and keep flavour?


  1. Reduce salt in cooking and at the table. This simple adjustment can significantly lower sodium consumption at home.

  2. Be aware of hidden salt. Minimise consumption of packaged foods, fast foods and takeaways. See our article, comparing the amount of salt in bread and chips (crisps)

  3. When dining out - at restaurants or the food court - order dishes with less salt; avoid drinking salt laden soups.

  4. Purchase a low sodium "lo salt", "pan salt" or "k-salt"

  5. Incorporate dry or fresh herbs such as parsley, oregano, thyme, dill, basil, or herb mixes to enhance flavour.

  6. Use spices and flavour enhancers like garlic and chile to add depth to dishes.

  7. Enhance taste by using lemon or lime juice, and vinegar.

  8. Explore flavour combinations by experimenting and consulting recipe books for inspiration. For instance, curry powder can elevate the flavour of potatoes or eggs, while vegetables pair well with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

  9. Consider providing feedback to restaurants if meals seem overly salty.


One effective eating practice is the DASH diet - a low salt diet that has been consistenlty proven to lower risk of chronic illness and promote health.

 

Making small changes to eating practices can really add up to health, without losing taste. It takes about three weeks to get used to the taste of having less salt, so be creative with what you eat - keep things flavourful - and soon enough you'll be making progress and gaining health.


Alastair

 

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Contact us to arrange an introductory call, to discuss how we can support your journey to health. We are based in Singapore and work with clients globally.


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Related Resources



Studies

Jiang K, He T, Ji Y, Zhu T, Jiang E. The perspective of hypertension and salt intake in Chinese population. Front Public Health. 2023 Feb 17;11:1125608. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2023.1125608. PMID: 36875386; PMCID: PMC9981806.


N.L. Riis, K.S. Bjoernsbo, U. Toft, E. Trolle, G. Hyldig, I.E. Hartley, R. Keast, A.D. Lassen,

Impact of salt reduction interventions on salt taste sensitivity and liking, a cluster randomized controlled trial, Food Quality and Preference, Volume 87, 2021, 104059, ISSN 0950-3293, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.2020.104059.


M L Chung, T A Lennie, D K Moser, A gradual taste adaption intervention reduced dietary sodium intake among adults with hypertension, European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, Volume 21, Issue Supplement_1, July 2022, zvac060.077, https://doi.org/10.1093/eurjcn/zvac060.077

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