Do one little thing for your heart today
Following last month's spotlight on cholesterol and your heart, we look at how reducing your salt intake is another step you can take in the new year to reap big health benefits.
The World Health Organisation recommends that adults should eat less than six grams of salt each day, around one teaspoon in total. And while your body needs a little salt to function properly, you could be consuming too much without realising it – especially if you eat a lot of processed food or dine out regularly.
Around three quarters of the salt we eat has already been added to our food before we buy it, including sauces, ready meals and less obvious culprits such as processed bread –even effervescent vitamin tablets can have up to 1g of added salt.
"It is the 'hidden' salt in the refined and processed food that we buy that contributes most to our salt intake," says Bupa Medical Director Dr Amit Sethi. "For example, one serving of certain breakfast cereals can contain more than half the recommended daily amount of salt."
Feeling the pinch
Understanding salt's effect on the body and regulating your intake is key to heart health. When you take salt in, it draws water toward it and this causes us to retain more water. If you eat too much, the extra water stored in your body raises your blood pressure, putting strain on your heart and arteries, which is a major risk factor for heart attacks1.
So how can we help moderate our salt intake and protect our heart health?