Cut back on Salt, Experts Advise

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Updated 21 November 2012
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Cut back on Salt, Experts Advise

We eat many things everyday without knowing their effects on our health. Salt is a very important ingredient in our daily food intake, whether it is in the form of fruit salt, vegetable salt, or the salt we consume in cooked food. 
It might come as a surprise to some people, that it’s not the salt we add to our meals, but also the salt inside many food products, that could be putting our health at risk. 
According to the experts too much salt can increase the risk of high blood pressure, and create coronary heart disease. From the doctors and nutrition experts’ point of view, it is important not to take more than the recommended amount of salt for a healthy heart. 
“Reducing salt intake helps to reduce blood pressure levels. While a higher intake of salt causes a plethora of health problems like hypertension, heart diseases (heart failure), stroke, kidney failure, bloating and other health problems.” Said Dr. Syed Anwar Khursheed, ICU Physician at King Faisal Hospital Taif.
He further said table salt is composed of 40 percent sodium and 60 percent chloride. The maximum recommended level of sodium intake for adults is 2,300 mg per day, which is equal to one scant teaspoon of salt. 
Arab News talked to a few people, who suffer from high blood pressure, to learn more about what their doctors recommended, and the types of problems they face. 
According to Sayed Vaseeq, a travel agent who has been suffering from high blood pressure for the past 5 years, “It is very important to closely monitor your diet if you have high blood pressure, especially your salt intake, as the slightest increase of salt in your food, can have detrimental health consequences. One must especially be careful when eating in restaurants because the food tends to be saltier.” 
Vaseeq further added, “for expatriates living away from their families, monitoring the food we eat, and ensuring we don’t consume too much salt, is more difficult because we tend to eat in restaurants most of the time.” He also added, that the lifestyle in Saudi Arabia makes it all the more challenging to remain healthy as physical activity is limited. 
“My doctor recommended that I walk everyday, but because I work a double-shift job, I can’t go for long walks but I always try to go for short walks as I feel it is very beneficial to my health, ” he said. 
Abu Ahmed, another high blood pressure patient said his blood pressure problem was controlled by medication. However, despite taking a daily pill, his doctor stressed that he should lower his salt consumption. ” I use salt alternatives, because I personally enjoy food that is salty, and haven’t been able to change my food preference. Salt alternatives are available in the market, and do not have adverse effects on the health,” he said. 
 Tanzeem Saleem Al-Rahman suffers from both high blood pressure and diabetes, and is on medication. However despite his doctor’s repeated advice to lower his salt intake and to watch his diet, he is unable to reduce the amount of salt in his food, because food doesn’t taste good to him without salt. 
“I know I shouldn’t be doing this, as I have recently also suffered from kidney problems. I am trying really hard to cut down on my salt intake, but it remains very difficult for me,” said Al-Rahman. 
Nutrition experts advise people to watch out for food like chips, salted nuts, canned sauces and soups, black beans and canned vegetables when grocery shopping.  Experts also warn about all ready-made meals as they typically contain a lot of salt, as do some types of breads, cereals, cakes and biscuits. 
As such, nutritionists advice us to carefully read the nutrition labels when purchasing food, and encourage us to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. 
According to Khairunissa Khan a mother, our food intake and lifestyle are key to leading a healthy life. “As a mother, I try to instill healthy eating habits within my children at an early age, and I encourage any type of physical activity. It is very unfortunate how the levels of child obesity and diabetes are on the rise in the Kingdom.
“I also try to pay close attention to the food labels and nutrition facts on the items I purchase from the supermarket, to ensure they do not contain more than the recommended GDA for salt. Adding salt to food while cooking is a hard habit to break, however I try to cut down on the amount of salt I use in preparing my family’s meals, and I avoid putting salt on the dining table,” Khan added. 

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Where We Are Going Today: Al-Hakawati Restaurant & Cafe

Updated 23 March 2019
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Where We Are Going Today: Al-Hakawati Restaurant & Cafe

Al-Hakawati in Arab culture is a person known for their captivating storytelling abilities.
Diners can create their own tales and memories at this charming Levantine-decorated restaurant in El-Khayyat center, in Jeddah’s Al-Rawdah district.
An Arabian atmosphere is created to encourage customers to return again and again with the restaurant hosting live performances of traditional Arabic music every Thursday and Friday (and occasionally on Tuesdays).
Staff are polite and attentive to customer needs and the Levantine cuisine is a treat not to be missed.