While everyone should reduce their dietary salt, those who have diabetes have more reasons to be careful about their sodium intake. People with high sugar levels are more prone to high blood pressure and its adverse effects like cardiovascular and kidney disease and even stroke. While the salt consumption has reduced considerably over the years, we need to take a more severe look at salt and how it hides in the most innocuous food items in our daily diet. Read on to know more about diabetes and salt.
Why is Salt Bad for Diabetics?
For most diabetics, it is the carbohydrates that are red flagged in the diet. But salt is a hidden enemy too. Sodium, a predominant component of salt, is an essential mineral that is responsible for electrolyte balance in the body. It helps to maintain fluid balance in the body and is needed for proper nerve and muscle function. When there is an excess of sodium in the body, it leads to high blood pressure which increases the risk of developing heart disease. This means Diabetes and Salt are a big NO.
Sodium affects the body’s insulin resistance. Research has proved that those who have diabetes are four times most likely to suffer from heart disease compared to regular people. This is because most people who have high sugar levels are overweight or obese, have a high amount of LDL (bad cholesterol) and generally have a sedentary lifestyle. Restricting the amount of your salt intake can tilt the balance in your favor and keep heart disease at bay. Not just this, too much salt is also linked to stomach cancer. Even those who do not have diabetes are at risk of developing the disease if they consume too much salt.
Sources of Salt
Apart from the salt, you sprinkle over your food; there are many other ways in which it sneaks its way into our diets. Patients with diabetes must ensure that they limit their intake of the following food items.
- Processed Food: This is the main culprit of adding excess salt to our diets. Ready meals, takeaways, and anything that comes in a packet or a box are going to have more than your daily recommended dosage of salt.
- Salted Snacks: There is a reason why you must avoid that popcorn, salted nuts, cookies, and other snacks as they are full of salt and spoil the electrolyte balance in your body.
- Chinese Food: Soy sauce is full of salt, and it is one of the main ingredients of Chinese cooking. If you can avoid adding it to the dishes, you can have your Chinese food.
- Accompaniments: Ketchup, chutneys, mayonnaise, and pickles are brimming with salt. Please avoid adding these to your diet if you have diabetes.
- Bread and Cereal: Look for other healthier options for your breakfast as the bread and cereal menu is out. Both of these items have a high amount of sodium and increase the risk of high blood pressure. Bread is the number one
- Canned Food: Canned soup, beans, mushrooms are all high in salt. Choose the fresh varieties over the canned ones to reduce your salt intake.
- Instant Soups: These are another swift option for a meal, but they are bad for your health due to high sodium content.
- Restaurant Food: Those who eat out regularly have a high risk of suffering from heart disease than those who cook at home because restaurants use salt liberally in their dishes. Other foodstuffs include:
- Processed Cheese and Marinara Sauce
- Canned Vegetable Juices
- Pickles and pickled vegetables
- Bottled Olives
- Seasoned noodles mixes
- Salted butter or margarine
How to Reduce Your Salt Intake?
Those who have diabetes should limit their salt intake to 2,300 milligrams per day. If someone also has hypertension, they must not eat more than 1,500 milligrams of salt per day. There are many steps you can take to reduce the salt in your diet. Here are a few steps.
- Instead of sprinkling salt through the shaker, measure it out in a spoon and then add to your food. Reduce the quantity you eat gradually.
- Avoid eating processed food. Also, eat out less frequently. Cook at home and use as many fresh ingredients as possible. Eat fresh fruits and salads to improve your health quotient.
- Avoid ready-made meals as much as possible.
- Read the labels of packaged food items. Choose those who have comparatively less sodium content.
- Break the habit of adding salt to your food without tasting it. This unconscious habit harms us more than we realize.
- Add other spices to food. Good choices are paprika, pepper, chives or oregano. These add the flavor without harming the health.
- Lemon juice is another option to add flavor to food.
- Ginger, garlic, coriander, basil, and mint are other herbs that add a punch of flavor to any curry or sauce. Vinegar too helps to enhance the taste.
- Choose homemade hummus over mayonnaise or ketchup.
- Choose reduced salt versions of ketchup, mustard, and other sauces.
- Make your tomato salsa to replace the store-bought ketchup.
- Avoid adding stock cubes or gravy granules.
- If you must use canned food items, look for the ones who are immersed in spring water rather than in brine.
- Prefer to add sea salt than the regular table salt.
- The market offers undoubtedly reduced sodium salts. These are great if you do not have kidney disease as these replace the sodium with potassium. Talk to your doctor before switching over to these.
- Dissolvable vitamin and painkillers have added salt, roughly about a gram per tablet. Account for this in your daily salt intake.
Sodium levels have a telling effect on the health of those who have diabetes. Talk to your nutritionist or your doctor on how to curb your salt intake. Remember, balance is the key to maintain good health. Diabetes and salt are not a healthy combination.