HA NOI (VNS)— The number of adults suffering from high blood pressure is increasing rapidly because people are eating too much salt, said Dr Phan Bich Nga from the National Institute of Nutrition.
On average, each person eats 18-22 grammes of salt per day, according to a study the institute conducted last year on 600 people in six northern provinces. Doctors recommend consuming no more than 5g.
People living in plain areas eat about 5-10g less than those living in coastal areas.
As people eat more fast food, accompanied by condiments such as ketchup, fish sauce and soya sauce, salt consumption dramatically increases: salt accounts for about 60 per cent of the total seasoning used in these foods.
"Having too much salty food not only leads to high blood pressure, but also causes kidney stones, high cholesterol and osteomalacia, as salt is a big barrier for calcium absorption," said Nga.
However, she added, this did not mean that people should have too little salt, as salt shortages can lead to "digestive and nervous disorders and cerebral oedema."
Normal people should consume about 3-6g of salt per day, she said, whereas people with high blood pressure and pregnant women should have at most 4g.
One of the easiest ways to eat less salt is to avoid packaged food, frozen food and fast food.
Sometimes high blood pressure is caused by genetics, as in the case of Tran Hong Anh, a 58-year-old resident in Ha Noi's Tu Liem District, who has suffered from high blood pressure for the past 20 years.
"I have eaten insipid food since I was small, but I was still hit by high blood pressure. It is surely a hereditary disease from my grandfather and father," she said.
Still, she continues to eat low-sodium food, take medicine and do morning exercises to keep her blood pressure as low as possible.
So far the health sector has had a number of programmes to inform people about suitable nutrition for children, especially malnourished children. However, the role of salt – particularly in an adult diet – has been largely ignored.
"Proper meals can prevent disease, so people should be informed that eating right can keep them healthy," Nga said. — VNS