Tuesday, 24 August 2010

A salty surprise!

I always want my blog to be relevant and interesting to its readers and so it's great to receive blog suggestions, even if I can't always blog on those topics straight away. So if there's a topic you'd like covered or any feedback you'd like to give just reply to one of my blogs.

Todays blog was suggested by a good friend, and regular NITC reader, who recently asked me why I haven't blogged about the dangers of excess salt. It is a worthwhile topic but not one at the forefront of my mind, principally because I make most of my meals from scratch with little added salt and don't eat out that frequently. However as most city folk do eat out or regularly by their lunch from one of the many city food outlets it's definitely a topic worth covering.

Small amounts of sodium are needed in the body for it to function properly and it is possible to have too little. Sodium helps to maintain the concentration of body fluids at correct levels, is important for the transmission of electrical impulses in the nerves and helps cells to take up nutrients. It is also used by the adrenal glands (the glands that regulate our bodies response to stress) and salt cravings can be a sign of over-stressed adrenal glands.

On the flip side excess salt leads to increased water retention which is linked to high blood pressure which is in turn linked to a greater risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Infact experts estimate that if the average UK salt consumption was cut to 6g a day (from the 9-10g average) it would prevent 70,000 heart attacks and strokes a year - a fairly staggering statistic.

But you buy your lunch from all the healthy city food outlets so why should you worry? Well whilst a lot of 'healthy' outlets have gotten their acts together when it comes to saturated fat and sugar contents, many are regularly serving meals laden with salt.

Earlier this year health campaigners found that ten soups sold by the Eat chain containing more than the 6g daily allowance of salt. The worst example was its Very Big Soup Bold Thai Green Chicken Curry with 8.07 grams in a serving of 907 millilitres (although why you'd want to eat a soup that big is beyond me!).

Wagamama chicken ramen had 7.2g of salt per serving and even my beloved Leon has a substantial 3.9g in one portion of its white bean and fennel soup.

Some of these healthy chains don't disclose the salt levels on their websites making it difficult to keep track, but I'd recommend checking the salt content on food packets of any processed foods you eat and undertaking a quick internet search for the salt content in all your lunchtime favourites to check you're not going over the limit, you may be surprised by how much salt you're eating.


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