Yes, South Africans should reduce their salt intake - doctor

Traditionally it's always been accepted that a high salt intake is linked with high blood pressure.

Recently though, literature's come out disputing this traditional medical view.

Standing in for Phemelo, Lee Kasumba speaks to Dr Fundile Nyathi, CEO of Practical Health Solutions to find out what South Africans should be doing in the face of these seemingly contradictory views.

Of late there are a few articles that have come out to actually say it's not necessarily so or no it's exaggeration, but the position of the South African government is that we should reduce our salt intake. And they're supported by a lot of literature, working with the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa and also with a multi-stakeholder body called the Salt Watch.

Dr Fundile Nyathi, CEO - Proactive Health Solutions

There must be overwhelming evidence and so far the overwhelming evidence is that there is an association (between salt intake and hypertension).

Dr Fundile Nyathi, CEO - Proactive Health Solutions

Dr Nyathi points out that nearly a third of adults in this country suffer from high blood pressure and that it's been shown that ingesting less salt improves their health.

All of those bodies are saying, yes, in some countries like Vietnam where a study was done that showed maybe the association between salt and hypertension isn't as big as it's been made to be, but in the South African context we know that South Africans have a very high salt intake, sometimes two to three times what is recommended.

Dr Fundile Nyathi, CEO - Proactive Health Solutions

About 30% of our adults in South Africa are hypertensive and when they reduce their salt intake we also know that their blood pressure control tends to be much better. So I'm still stuck to the information that is tried and tested that we will continue to observe.

Dr Fundile Nyathi, CEO - Proactive Health Solutions

What is the maximum daily amount of salt people should aim for?

In the US they recommend that the daily intake should not be more than 2300 milligrams a day, but in the South African context the recommended daily allowance is actually five grams.

One teaspoon of salt is about 2300 milligrams, meaning you shouldn't be taking more than two teaspoons of salt in a 24-hour period.

Dr Fundile Nyathi, CEO - Proactive Health Solutions

For tips on how to painlessly reduce your salt intake, listen to the full conversation:


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