No one can forget the now historical scene of Sholay where Gabbar Singh is about to kill Kalia and he says as a last resort to save his life, “Par Sarkar maine aapka Namak Khaya hai.” Namak or the common salt we use every day in our meals is such an indispensable part of food that we Indians have actually made it synonymous to trust, bonding and comradeship. No one can even think of cheating someone whose namak you have tasted.
But it is really the common salt that is the root of all problems. If not social, definitely many health problems in your life. Experts say that a person should have 2400 mg of salt or more specifically the sodium present in salt every day. This quantity helps in regulating the fluid content of the body and also essential for muscle and nerve functions. But do you know what 2400 mg is roughly equal to? A mere teaspoon of salt every day. That is surely not the amount of salt you take whether it is at your own home or at any other person’s home to whom you are namakhalal.
In fact, most salt intake in our food everyday does not come from the deliberate pinch of salt taken in the side of the plate, but within the food we eat. This huge quantity of salt keeps degrading our blood vessels and just like the salt deposition on the side of vessels or water pipes with regular use, the salt in the body too creates a condition which we know as high blood pressure.
Here are few food products that have high content of sodium in them,
Frozen foods – The pre-packed meals you get at supermarkets or the pre-packaged vegetable gravies, non-veg products, all have a very high salt content in them. They are indeed easy to prepare and eat but are loaded with excessive amount of salt too.
Breakfast Cereals – Though it may never occur to you that the visibly high fibre containing food like cornflakes, oatmeals etc. can be harmful, they have high sodium content. If you look closely for details in the pack, you might be surprised to find each small cup of the cornflakes containing 266 mg of sodium.
Breakfast Tip – If you really want to choose wisely, opt for the old Indian breakfast cereal –the rice puff or murmure or parmal as it is commonly known. It does not contain sodium and can be taken along with the cornflakes or alone to reduce the salt intake of the day.
Soups – pre-packaged soups are a rage now especially when advertisements claim they are healthy snack choice for your kids. But if you again see the label of most popular brands, you will find the sodium content in them to be an average 1106 mg a serving! And so you are deliberately increasing the salt intake of your kid at such an early age and heightening his/her risk of health problems later. Beware!
Best alternative is home-made soup.
Soy Sauce – Chinese at home or at a restaurant can’t do without some soy sauce. A tablespoon of this sauce though contains as much as 1000 mg of sodium. So next time you need to add a dash, use sparingly or use alternative flavoring like vinegar, lime juice etc.
Salted Peanuts – The 1 rupee time pass tastes good especially when you are hungry and need something to munch on. But the sodium content of these salted snacks is about 250 g per 100 gms and so do eat carefully.
Chips et al – Chips, corn puffs, kurkures of the world contain very high amount of sodium. And that is why they taste so good. Even if you buy the fat-free variety, the sodium content remains unaltered and therefore, it really does no good to gorge on these fatty, unhealthy food products. If you really must eat something fried, fry at home and do not use salt.
The market today is flooded with a variety of pre-packed food choices. If you really want to know whether the pack you are picking is sodium safe, look for the following in the label,
- Sodium-free: Less than 5 mg of sodium per serving
- Very low-sodium: 35 mg or less per serving
- Low-sodium: Less than 140 mg per serving
- Reduced sodium: Sodium level reduced by 25%
- Unsalted, no salt added, or without added salt: Made without the salt that’s normally used, but still contains the sodium that’s a natural part of the food itself.
And here is what you should look for instead of scanning for salt. It is not usually written in plain English but a chemical name with sodium that you may easily miss out on,
- sodium alginate
- sodium ascorbate
- sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
- sodium benzoate
- sodium caseinate
- sodium chloride
- sodium citrate
- sodium hydroxide
- sodium saccharin
- sodium stearoyl lactylate
- sodium sulfite
- disodium phosphate
- monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- trisodium phosphate
Thus, have salt but not overdo it. Surely it is good for the health to be namak-haram to the namak itself!