Salt vis-à-vis Hypertension, and other facts

Reducing your salt intake and being well educated about its effects can help you stay away from hypertension, says Dr. TR Hemkumar

Published: Nov 28, 2019 04:54:54 PM IST
Updated: Nov 28, 2019 06:32:04 PM IST

Indian food is known around the globe for its rich flavors and regional delicacies. Our traditional ways of food storage too are quite popular, within India and abroad. These include pickling foods, making chutneys, papads, etc. For traditional food preservation, people either used sugar, salt, or oil, in addition to sun-drying food items; salt is perhaps the most common. 

Thus, salt has carved a very prominent niche for itself in Indian cuisine and our culture. However, traditional salts like pink salt, rock salt and black salt were rich in minerals but low in sodium. The introduction of table salt changed that. Salt was stripped of most minerals but retained a high level of sodium. This made it especially dangerous for those with hypertension as salt is known to worsen the condition.

Around the world, it is recommended to consume only about 5 to 6 grams of salt. But the average consumption in India is well over 10-12 grams, which is twice the permissible amount. This puts us all at risk of cardiovascular irregularities and hypertension while putting the lives of those with hypertension in unnecessary danger. Not only does it affect the heart, but excess consumption of salt can also damage kidneys and other organs in the long run. 

The only positive aspect here is that people are now increasingly becoming aware of this, and actively choosing to consume less salt. This is not only limiting their exposure to cardiovascular and kidney risks but also hypertension, which is one of the most dangerous diseases around the world.

Issued in Public Interest by USV PVT LTD 

Busting myths about high blood pressure 

In India, we have a definite affinity to myths. These myths have often been passed down to newer generations for centuries. However, one particular aspect of life where myths can have a severe negative impact, and shouldn’t be perpetuated is health. Especially myths surrounding hypertension, or high blood pressure, must be busted as they can often have life-threatening consequences.

Myths about hypertension range from believing that it is hereditary, to being convinced that the use of alternative salts will prevent hypertension. Many people are known to think that if hypertension doesn’t run in the family, they are exempt from it. Similarly, others believe that if family members suffer from hypertension, they too will contract the ailment, irrespective of what precautions they take. 

On both counts, this is a dangerous approach. Hypertension can happen to anyone with an improper lifestyle. These myths are especially dangerous when you consider that symptoms of hypertension are mostly undetectable for a very long time, making it a silent killer. During this time, it goes on a destruction rampage in the patient’s body, damaging organs, sometimes irreparably. 

While advice to lower stress and remain calm is helpful to some extent, it is not a strong enough preventive measure to avoid hypertension. One must control diet, the amount of salt being consumed, exercise regularly, and generally adopt healthy life choices in order to stay away from hypertension. The only preventive measure that actually helps is being aware of hypertension and the myths that surround it so that you can rise above them and avoid the unnecessary complications that come with the dangerous disease.

Disclaimer: The views, suggestions and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Forbes India journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.

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