7 myths about cooking with salt
Taking in an excessive amount of sodium (salt) is linked to high blood pressure and increases the risk of heart disease, doctors say Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has urged residents to limit their daily salt intake to less than five grams, equivalent to about one teaspoon, in a new health awareness campaign.

The seven-day campaign aims to highlight the dangers of excessive salt consumption and its detrimental effects on community health.

The initiative also promotes using healthier alternatives to salt and selecting healthier food products by understanding salt content labels.

Get exclusive content with Gulf News WhatsApp channel

It emphasised the dangers of hidden salts found in many food products and the health risks of excessive salt intake, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, circulatory issues, and stroke, highlighting the importance of reducing salt in diets to improve overall health.

“Excessive sodium consumption is linked to high blood pressure and increases the risk of heart and vascular diseases, stomach cancer, obesity, osteoporosis, and kidney diseases,” the inistry said in a social media campaign held as part of the initiative.

Studies indicate that the average salt consumption in the UAE exceeds the recommended limit. This overconsumption is attributed to the high salt content in processed foods, dining out, and cooking practices that involve liberal use of salt and salty seasonings.

As recommended by the World Health Organisation, aim to reduce your salt intake to less than five grams per day (for adults) to promote better health, the ministry said.

read more

“With just a few simple steps, you can reduce your salt intake at home by using salt substitutes, avoiding processed fast foods, and opting for potassium-rich foods to help regulate blood pressure,” the ministry said, providing the following tips:

Reducing salt intake at home

• Cut down on salt while cooking using alternatives like garlic, citrus juice, and salt-free spices.

• Steer clear of canned fruits and vegetables, as they often pack in preservatives and salt.

• Prepare sauces and soups instead of buying them ready-made.

• Boost your diet with potassium-rich foods like avocados, bananas, mushrooms, peas, and potatoes, which can help counteract sodium’s effects and keep your blood pressure in check

• Avoid ready-made meals, processed meats, cheese, pickles, salty snacks, and instant pasta, as they contain high levels of salt.

Cutting down salt while shopping

To maintain your health, explore the following tips that help you select low-sodium foods and learn the various names for salt found in ingredient lists while shopping at supermarkets, the ministry said.

• Check food labels and opt for products with lower sodium content

• Choose fresh or frozen vegetables over canned ones for higher nutritional value.

• Select foods labeled “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no added salt” if available.

• Examine product ingredients, as salt may be listed under different names, such as:

monosodium glutamate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium phosphate, sodium nitrate, sodium benzoate, and baking powder.

Consuming less salt while dining out

• The ministry offered five simple steps to cut down on your salt intake when dining out.

• Ask for the nutritional information of the dish you choose.

• Opt for low-sodium options.

• Request less salt in your main dish.

• Ask for reduced salt in side dishes.

• Skip salty sauces like ketchup, mustard, and mayo

Additionally, the ministry utilised its digital platforms and collaborated with partners like supermarkets and hypermarkets to educate the community about the risks associated with high salt consumption.

The campaign also sought to equip community members with practical skills for preparing low-salt recipes through instructional videos demonstrating the use of salt substitutes and promote the preparation of healthy dishes.

Additionally, social media quizzes were organised to engage and incentivise participants to share their healthy meal creations, fostering a culture of wellness within the community.

Enhancing quality of life

Nouf Khamis Al Ali, director of the Health Promotion Department at MoHAP, said: “The campaign, launched as part of our ongoing efforts to encourage healthy eating and enhance the quality of life through educational workshops, contests, and materials shared on social media.”

“Our end goal of the campaign was to inspire community members to improve their eating habits significantly, equip them with the knowledge and skills needed for the effective use of salt substitutes, and offer practical advice on reducing salt intake. We will spare no effort to motivate all segments of society to adopt healthy dietary practices.”