Cardiac health calls for a collective salt rollback
SummaryHigh blood pressure haunts Indians overdosed on salt. To fend off this silent killer, nutrition labelling seems too blunt a tool. To reduce our sodium intake, we need a collective pullback
This week, a report on hypertension published by the World Health Organization (WHO) said that over 188 million Indians were living with high blood pressure, but only 37% of them were aware of their status. It can lead to a cardiac attack, stroke or other illnesses, but the condition stalks us stealthily, often without symptoms. By the WHO’s estimate, intervention can potentially prevent 4.6 million deaths in India by 2040. The study’s eye-popper was its finding on our intake of salt, the sustained over-dosage of which bears a clear link with the pressure of what flows through our arteries. On average, Indians consume about 10gm of salt everyday (2019 data), which is twice the WHO’s recommended limit of 5gm for adults. For the health of our hearts, this needs sharp reduction. The problem, it seems, is that our palates have been conditioned to savour extra salinity. Indeed, the role of packaged foods in raising our tolerance of salt in their chase of taste-buds cannot be over-estimated. Get used to excessive sodium-chloride (its chemical name), and we end up over-salting all our meals without even realizing it.