Flavor possible without using excessive saltSalt is one of the oldest food additives in existence, and for good reason: The substance is pretty darn useful. Salt helps maintain the balance of electrolytes in one’s body and can be used as a sterilizer. It’s hardly a panacea, however.
Many Koreans still consume more than the recommended daily allowance of salt while not consuming enough calcium, potassium or magnesium.
The World Health Organization recommends that people consume less than 6 grams (0.2 ounces) of salt a day, although doctors say the amount of salt the body requires daily is only 1.3 grams. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also reduced its recommended daily sodium intake to 2 grams, from 3.5 grams.
Excessive salt consumption can lead to high blood pressure, cardiovascular or kidney problems, osteoporosis or apoplexy. For instance, 40 percent of the residents of Akita, Japan, who consume 22.5 grams of salt per day in miso soup, pickled vegetables and salted fish, have high blood pressure.
Koreans consume 15 grams of salt daily on average, making it important that they increase their consumption of calcium, potassium and magnesium, all of which help lower one’s blood pressure. Potatoes, beans, tangerines, tomatoes, melons, bananas and sunflower seeds are all rich in potassium.
An increase in salt consumption can push down one’s calcium levels, which in turn can lead to osteoporosis. To stock up on calcium, eat dairy products, beans, tofu, salmon, broccoli, walnuts, peanuts, anchovies and sardines.
Magnesium helps prevent calcium from building up on the walls of blood vessels, thus preventing the hardening of arteries. Magnesium is present in grains, green vegetables, milk, meat, bananas and almonds. For this reason, people with high blood pressure are recommended to eat a lot of fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts and low-fat dairy products.
How to Reduce Your Salt Intake
* Avoid Korean-style soups, which are high in sodium content.
* Instead of salt, use green onion, garlic, chili pepper and herbs as seasonings.
* Eat fewer fast or instant food items.
* Use lemon juice instead of salt.
* Dip foods in low-sodium soy sauce instead of using salt.
* Eat less foods preserved with salt.
* Use anchovy and tangle weed for seasoning.
by Park Tae-kyung
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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