Indian are now alert to dangers of high salt intake and are modifying their dietaq

Indians, aware of the dangers of excessive salt intake, are modifying their diets unlike other international communities like Australians who are sticking to high-salt foods though they are aware of its effects, according to a new study.
Populations in 181 of 187 nations consume more than the WHO-recommended daily upper limit of 5 gm of salt. Indians consume nine % more salt than the global average — 10.06 gm. Claire Johnson, a research fellow with The George Institute for Global Health, Australia, led an India-centric study on salt intake in February this year. It included a cross-section of 1,395 respondents across India — educated and uneducated, urban and rural, male and female, and of different ages averaging 40 years.
Nine of 10 respondents said they were aware that a diet high in salt is bad for their health. When asked the question: ‘How important to you is lowering salt in your diet?’ as many answered affirmatively. Not just that, participants actually acted upon this knowledge, lowering their salt intake.For instance, 98% participants reported using spices other than salt, 61% said they avoided eating out and 52% maintained that they avoided processed foods.
The control of hypertension requires a reduction in salt intake because too much sodium constricts arteries, thus raising blood pressure, and impairs kidney function, leading to extra fluid and extra strain on the associated blood vessels.Hypertension is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease. Thus the impact of excessive salt intake on the health of the average Indian is clear: One in four Indians succumbed to cardiovascular disease in 2012.India’s health gains could be ‘enormous’, Johnson told IndiaSpend, if we could cut our average salt/sodium intake by 30%. This would meet one of nine WHO targets to cut premature deaths caused by four major non-communicable diseases. It would also cut the risk of Indians dying by heart attack or stroke by about 15%.The average Indian consumes 10.98 gm salt a day, according to an earlier Johnson-led study. This is over twice the WHO-recommended upper limit per day, 5 gm, which is just under a teaspoon, and seven times what the body actually needs. There is a widespread belief in India that in warm weather when the body sweats and loses salt it is imperative to consume more salt. Johnson refutes it. ‘Irrespective of the weather, physiologically, humans need just one-quarter teaspoon of salt: 1-2 grams which equals 500 mg of sodium daily,’ said Johnson.About 10% of the daily salt intake of an Indian occurs naturally in fruit, vegetables, cereal and other raw ingredients, said Johnson. The rest is added during cooking or at the table.
So, cutting down involves adding less salt during cooking and on the table. Both are more doable than making the major dietary changes implicated in controlling salt-intake in the West, where the excess consumption generally comes from salt added to processed foods such as pasta sauces. India has seen great dietary changes in the last 30 years, noted Johnson.
‘Indians are eating less pulses, fruits and vegetables and lots more processed and fast foods, and as a result, their diets now include excess salt, sugars and harmful fats,’ she said.
‘These are driving up rates of high blood pressure, obesity and cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack and stroke.’ Currently it is impossible to reckon how much salt you are getting from packaged foods in India. Consider.

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