South Africa has one of the highest rates of high blood pressure (hypertension) worldwide. In fact, 1 in 3 adult South Africans are living with high blood pressure which is one of the leading causes for heart disease or stroke. Every day, 225 people die from heart disease – 76 of them due to a stroke. An estimate of 10 people will suffer a stroke and five people will have a heart attack every hour!
A high salt diet is one of the leading causes for high blood pressure. And on average, South Africans are consuming more than double the recommended amount of salt! The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa is calling on the nation to eat less salt.
How does high blood pressure lead to a heart attack or a stroke?
What is sodium?
Salt is made up of two parts - sodium and chloride. Sodium is the part of salt that can increase your blood pressure when you eat too much of it.
Do you eat too much salt?
It can be very easy to eat too much salt when eating normal everyday foods.
What about 'hidden' salt?
Half of the salt we eat comes from processed foods.
In South Africa, the top contributors to daily salt intake are:
How much salt is too much?
How to choose less salty foods
Read the ingredients list – this is mostly found at the back of a product. If sodium or salt is listed in the first three ingredients, the food is likely to be a high-salt choice. Salt may also be 'hidden' on the list as table salt, sodium chloride, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium nitrate, sodium bicarbonate and soy sauce – these are all salt too!
Use the table below to decide if food is low, moderate or high in sodium:
Remember to look at per 100g of food and not per serving - these numbers are found in the Nutritional Information Table on the packaging.
Tips to eat less salt
Products that carry the Heart Mark logo can be trusted to be a healthier choice because they:
For more information on healthy living kindly contact the Heart and Stroke Health Line on 0860 1 HEART (0860 1 432 78), send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.heartfoundation.co.za for more information.
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