Doctors say that table salt or sodium chloride is one of the biggest sources of sodium in our diets. It is made up of 40 per cent sodium and 60 per cent chloride. Dr Tilak Suvarna, senior interventional cardiologist says, “Sodium is a mineral that is essential for life. It helps to control our body’s fluid balance, assists in sending nerve impulses and affects muscle function.”
Cardiologists say that while we do need sodium in our diet to help regulate fluids in the body, the amount of salt we actually eat in a day is far more than we require.
“It’s the excess of sodium that’s the problem in relation to blood pressure. When there’s extra sodium in our bloodstream, it attracts water into our blood vessels, increasing the total amount of blood flowing inside, leading to a hike in blood pressure,” says Dr Suvarna.
There is very convincing evidence in the form of studies and research done in our country and abroad, which has shown that regularly eating too much salt puts us at increased risk of developing high blood pressure. It is the main cause of strokes and also a major cause of heart attacks and heart failures — the most common causes of death and illness in the world.
“Even if one does not have high blood pressure, eating less sodium can help blunt the rise in blood pressure that occurs with age, and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke,” says Dr Santosh Kumar Dora, senior cardiologist. Eating less salt has also been shown to reduce the risk of kidney disease, osteoporosis, stomach cancer and even headaches. The extra water in our body can also lead to bloating and weight gain.
There is now enough evidence to start taking action to reduce salt intake globally, which could include legislation and education, alongside collaboration with the food industry, say cardiologists in the city.