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World Hypertension Day: Watch the salt, says Ministry of Health and Wellness

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Posted: Monday, May 17, 2021. 3:10 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: More than a quarter of Belizeans live with hypertension, or high blood pressure, and in 2020, more than 300 died from heart disease related to the condition.

On this World Hypertension Day, the Ministry of Health and Wellness is calling attention to the issue with the theme “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer,” and a campaign to get Belizeans to use less salt.

A diet high in sodium, to use its chemical name, is a risk factor for hypertension as well as being overweight and doing limited physical activity. Hypertension is also the main risk factor leading to the development of heart disease.

The Salt Reduction/Healthy Eating Campaign of the Ministry’s Nutrition Unit and Public Health Unit involves no less than a radical reimagining of the Belizean diet, including education of cooks and vendors on the dangers of unhealthy cooking practices and to promote healthy cooking options, and raising awareness of the link between disease and unhealthy meal preparations, and encouraging healthier cooking tips for the general population.

Salt can be found in many of our favourite foods, especially processed ones, such as bacon, chopped ham, salami, cheese, and instant noodles; it can be added directly to food in cooking, or used in condiments such as soy, steak, and Worcestershire sauces

The World Health Organization recommends that adults consume less than five grams (just under a teaspoon) of salt per day. But how do you cut it out? Here are some general tips:

Use herbal-based seasonings such as garlic, onions, cilantro, spices, citrus juice, or salt-free seasonings.

Use less salt when cooking and avoid bottled mixed seasoning options.

Avoid processed foods and canned foods. If canned foods must be used, drain the liquid and rinse before consuming.

Buy fresh fruits and vegetables and avoid canned options.

Maintain physical activity and healthy eating. These can have positive effects in reducing blood pressure.

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