Salt – Enemy or Friend?

Salt, which is a vital mineral, has been used since ancient times to prevent food from spoiling and to add flavor.

Although the dates when people started to use salt are not very precise, it is thought that the introduction of salt by human beings goes back to ancient times. There are mentions of salt deposits suggesting that salt was produced in China in the years before Christ. It has been determined that salt was used and traded in the written documents belonging to the Hittites living in our lands. Salt also gave rise to important caravan routes and gave direction to trade. In some periods, salt was even used instead of money. While the salt paid to the soldiers as a wage was called “salarium” in the Romans, this word turned into the word “salary” (which can be translated into Turkish as salary-wage), which is still used in English today, . On the other hand, it is mentioned in some religious texts as a symbol representing sacred values. In some societies, salt is presented as an object that is too important to be betrayed and sinned against. The adjective “salty”, which means “expensive” in today’s Turkish, is still used as an expression of value.

Chemically, salt is the general name given to chemical compounds that are formed as a result of the reaction of acids and bases. Sodium Chloride salt, popularly known as “table salt”, is expressed with the symbol “NaCl”. According to the Turkish Food Codex Salt Communiqué, salt is salt produced from raw salt, the main ingredient of which is sodium chloride, in a quality suitable for consumption. Pure salt consists of approximately 40% Sodium and 60% Chlorine.

While the daily salt requirement for normal individuals is between 3 and 7 g (average 5 g), it has been determined that we consume 3 times as much salt in studies conducted in our country. 5 g of salt is roughly equivalent to 1 teaspoon of salt, and this amount can also be provided with natural daily consumed food and beverages without adding salt to the meals. In this respect, it is said that our country is among the countries that consume the most salt in the world. Although high sodium consumption is known to cause health problems, in many parts of the world people can consume much higher salt than they should. The main reason for excessive salt consumption is the excessive amount of salt in frequently consumed foods. Most of the sodium consumed comes from processed foods, not salt added to dishes at the kitchen table. Processed foods make up 75% of sodium intake. Traditional foods with a high salt content, such as canned goods, tomato paste, pickles, cheese and bread, have a high salt content.

In some people, the kidney’s salt-excreting capacity may be limited, and excess salt intake may lead to hypertension or at least failure to treat hypertension. It is claimed that the number of high blood pressure patients in our country, which was 15 million in 2004, increased to 18 million in 2008 and salt consumption played an important role in this increase. Studies have found that for every 6 grams of salt intake, blood pressure increases by around 8.2 millimeters of mercury. It is thought that reducing 1 gram of salt in the diet can lead to a 5% reduction in strokes and 3% in heart attacks in people with hypertension. But recently, different data have emerged. There are data that the development of hypertension in low sodium consuming individuals may not be related to salt consumption and that salt restriction will not be beneficial in this group. As a result, it is claimed that a general salt restriction in the whole society may not be both appropriate and beneficial. In addition, studies have recently been conducted claiming that excessive salt reduction invites various health problems. For this reason, daily salt consumption of less than 3.5-5 g has begun to be questioned in international medical treatment guidelines. In the conferences held for this purpose, information was obtained about the fact that low salt consumption may be harmful in some patient subgroups (diabetes, heart failure, kidney failure). Alternatively, it has been suggested to develop strategies to increase the potassium-containing diet. It has been emphasized that there is a need for better quality information on the benefits and harms of a low salt diet.

Considering that “extravagant and understated”, in other words, most or less will not be good, we can make practical suggestions as follows;

Daily salt consumption of 5 g (1 teaspoon) should be the target value,

If eating outside the home, less salty foods should be preferred,

When buying ready-made food, let’s check the salt content in the package,

Let’s reduce the amount of salt while preparing food at home,

Adding salt should be avoided without tasting the food and salad. Spices such as parsley, mint, thyme, dill, fennel, basil or basil can be used instead of salt.

Pickles, ketchup, tomato paste, pickled cheese, olives, soy sauce, salad dressings, etc. Foods have a high salt content. Avoid these foods or consume them very rarely.

We should increase the diet rich in potassium, such as fruits and vegetables,

As a result, salt remains popular today as an important mineral. In terms of health, a positive relationship between salt intake and cardiovascular diseases has been demonstrated. It has also been shown that the treatment of various cardiovascular diseases, especially hypertension, is easier by reducing salt intake. In this way, the economic burden is also reduced. However, the information about how much salt should be reduced in which patients is still not drawn with a clear border.

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