A pinch of salt !

by Dr. Daamini Shrivastav

April 29, 2016


  • Salt is what makes food savory and is only found in those foods
  • Salt’s chemical composition is Sodium Chloride so I should watch out for that in the ingredients’ list on packaged foods
  • Salt in our diets is what causes high blood pressure (Hypertension) and related health issues.
  • I can control my daily salt intake if I don’t add salt to what I eat/cook


  • Salt exists in every packaged food we buy and we’ve developed taste buds for it; unprocessed, wholesome food pales in comparison. Even sweet things (like biscuits) have salt added to them!  I cannot stress this point enough – CHECK and READ the label. As a rule of thumb, aim to consume foods with less than 120mg of Sodium per 100g serving and avoid those with greater than 200mg per 100g serving.
  • Whilst you’re label-watching, avoid foods containing compounds like Monosodium Glutamate, Baking Powder & Soda, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Nitire and Disodium Phosphate. It’s all sodium! Also beware salt substitutes as these often contain Potassium Chloride instead of Sodium Chloride and too much Potassium is lethal for the body.
  • It is unclear is if salt is indeed a problem? For many decades now the medical community has believed salt intake to be the reason for Hypertension, Heart & Kidney disease. But in fact, some rather large Cochrane reviews of several randomized controlled trial studies have shown that this in fact is not true. These reviews found that salt restriction had no benefit and didn’t cause or effect cardiovascular disease and/or effect mortality at all!
  • A single teaspoon of table salt weighs 6grams approx. and packs in 2,330 milligrams (mg) of Sodium, which is the recommended daily intake by most health authorities across the globe. But if figures and stats are to be believed, average consumption hits anywhere between 1.5 to 2 times that value. What is important is to be aware of what we consume. For example, a simple ham and cheese sandwich from your local supermarket provides 1.5x the salt that a 4-year-old child requires. Similarly just 15militers or 1 tablespoon of soy sauce has about 1000mg of Sodium. Even healthy options like a cup of low fat milk and your average whole-wheat slice of bread contain 100mg of Sodium!


  • The pros of a low Sodium diet are evidenced by mother’s breast milk which has a low sodium content (about 14mg Sodium per 100g portion) and which provides infants with all the nutrition they require in the first 4-6 months of life and during which growth is the most rapid.


  •  Some evidence points to negative outcomes of low sodium diets such as an increase in the blood levels of low-density lipids (pop culture refers to them as “bad fats”), increase in insulin resistance (which in fact is a known cause of diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome) and hyponatremia (low Sodium) in athletes, which is rather dangerous.

My Take

Whilst researching for this article I came this quirky quote –


“Salt is what makes things taste bad when it isn’t in them.”


You, dear reader, are probably so accustomed to my concluding sentiments that you could probably write this next bit yourself BUT - for that budding new follower of mine (a little self-flattery never hurt) here is what TO DO … 


Aim to buy whole fresh produce and for whole-grains. By eating fresh veggies, meat, fruits and wholegrain you’ll automatically reduce your carb intake from processed foods and a low-carb diet has been shown to lower in insulin levels and help the kidneys better their excess Sodium excretion. The culprits are processed meats like bacon, luncheon meats and cold cuts, tinned vegetable soups, processed pastas and grains. Other hidden sources of high Sodium include salad dressings, sauces, dips, mustard, relishes, ketchup and seasonings. 


Snack on whole nuts (unsalted obviously!), flavor your food with olive oil, lemon/orange juice and cook food through methods that preserve flavor like roasting, baking, stir-frying, microwaving or barbequeing. These measures will help you live longer with a pinch of salt ;-)  

Dr. Daamini Shrivastav


Dr. Daamini Shrivastav

Juggling many roles from physician to writer to pilates instructor to Marketing-PR executive, Dr. Daamini is constantly pushed and inspired to get creative on how to encompass a Retreat into her daily life.
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