Consuming too much salt and sodium can lead to increased blood pressure, causing 9.4 million deaths a year and the main risk factor for heart disease. Precisely the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 5 maximum grams of salt per day in adults, which is equivalent to one teaspoon; however, in Costa Rica the adult population consumes an average of 11.3 grams per day.
This excess can be related to the fact that, in the country, according to studies by the Costa Rican Institute for Research and Education in Nutrition and Health (INCIENSA), there is little knowledge about the terms salt and sodium, as well as about the recommendations for their consumption and their consequences. Likewise, the preparation of food both outside and inside Costa Rican homes is characterized by having excess added salt, and other industrialized ingredients high in sodium.
Efforts to counteract the problems
To counteract this problem in 2011, the Ministry of Health supported the Declaration of the Policy of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) / WHO, with which committed to reduce the morbidity attributable to arterial hypertension and cardiovascular disease through the reduction of salt.
Also in the National Plan for the Reduction of Salt / Sodium Consumption in the population of Costa Rica 2011-2021, the need to sensitize the population in the excessive consumption of salt and sodium was taken as a priority.
Despite the efforts, arterial hypertension continues to be one of the most frequent chronic diseases that affect the Costa Rican population; Even the medical manager of the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS), Mario Ruiz, pointed out in 2019 that 4 out of 10 people over the age of 20 suffer from it.
Prepare foods with less salt
As a solution to improve these rates, every year the “World Salt Awareness Week” is celebrated, which in 2021 is commemorated under the slogan “More flavor, Less salt” and focuses on promoting the preparation of food at home with less salt.
Within the framework of this commemoration, the Ministry of Health and INCIENSA offered a series of tips to consume less salt:
– Replace the salt with the chili, citrus, fresh herbs, garlic, black pepper, and spices (no added salt).
– Reduce the use of sauces, such as English, soy, tomato and dressings.
– Drain and rinse the canned vegetables.
– Prefer fresh fruits and vegetables; do not add salt.
– Gradually reduce salt when preparing meals; taste will gradually adapt.
– Start by eliminating 10% of the salt that is usually added.
– Check the sodium content indicated on food labels.
– Set the example of healthy eating if you are a mother or father.
– Limit the consumption of packaged snacks.
– Remove the salt shaker from the table.