Here are a few important numbers that should not be taken with a pinch of salt:

  • 50% of strokes in South Africa are related to high blood pressure.
  • 42% of ischaemic heart disease in South Africa is related to high blood pressure.
  • 72% of hypertensive heart disease in South Africa is related to high blood pressure.
  • 22% of other cardiovascular disease in South Africa is related to high blood pressure.
  • 0 or rare are the symptoms or visible signs that your blood pressure is high; it is therefore known as a ‘silent killer’.
  • 1 or more is the number of times annually you should have your blood pressure checked. If you have high blood pressure or a family history of high blood pressure, you may need to have your blood pressure measured more often.
  • Less than 120/80 to 129/84 mm Hg is regarded as a normal blood pressure measurement.
    • The first number is your systolic blood pressure (SBP), a measure of blood pressure when your heart muscle contracts e.g. 120.
    • The second number is your diastolic blood pressure (DBP), a measure of blood pressure when your heart muscle relaxes e.g. 80. The measurement is expressed as systolic blood pressure over diastolic blood pressure (SDP/DBP).
  • 1 in 3 South Africans have high blood pressure. A key driver of high blood pressure is high salt intake.
  • 5 grams is the maximum amount of salt an adult should consume in one day, according to the World Health Organisation.
  • 6 – 11 grams is the average amount of salt South Africans are consuming in one day, up to more than double the recommended amount.
  • ~ 40% of salt in the diets of South Africans is from adding salt to foods during cooking or at the table.
  • ~ 60% of salt in the diets of South Africans is found in pre-packaged foods.

It’s important to know what your blood pressure is, as an uncontrolled high blood pressure can result in a heart attack or stroke, as well as affect the functioning of other organs such as your kidneys and eyes. Get your blood pressure measured and take a closer look at the amount of salt you are taking in, as a high salt intake raises your blood pressure.

I encourage you to cut down on the following high salt foods (see below) and rather flavour food by using fresh or dried herbs, spices (but not BBQ spice or chop spice – because it isn’t really even a spice) as well as garlic, ginger and vinegar.

High salt foods

  • Table salt (including Himalayan, celtic and sea salts)
  • MSG, Zeal, Aromat
  • Vegetable salts (onion salt, celery salt, garlic salt etc.)
  • Smoked, cured, processed foods especially meats e.g. ham, corned beef, bacon, sausage
  • Pickled foods especially fish anchovies, pickled fish, pickled herring, dried fish/ tuna/ sardines
  • Meat extracts (Bovril, Marmite, Oxo, stock cubes, gravy powder)
  • Salted snack foods e.g. crisps, pretzels, popcorn, salted nuts, crackers, olives
  • Condiments (Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, salad dressings, mustard etc.)
  • Commercial foods e.g. frozen foods preserved in brine, dehydrated noodle, cook-in sauces etc.
  • Canned and powdered soups
  • Baking mixes
  • Canned meat and vegetables
  • Cheeses, processed cheese and cheese spreads

Read the ingredient list – if the word salt, sodium chloride, MSG etc. is in the first three ingredients, that product is a high-salt option – rather choose another brand/ food.

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