Cut back on Salt, Experts Advise

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Updated 21 November 2012

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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This Lebanese food shop is providing meals for Beirut blast victims

Updated 12 August 2020

This Lebanese food shop is providing meals for Beirut blast victims

DUBAI: On the night of the Beirut port blasts, which killed 154 civilians and injured thousands on August 4, Lebanese food shop owner Nabil Khoury and his brother decided to launch one of the very first initiatives for distributing packaged meals to those impacted by the catastrophe. Within a week, more than 3,000 meals have been cooked in the kitchen of Khoury’s vegetarian delicatessen, “Dry & Raw.”

In an Instagram post, the company shared: “We are all one in this. This is the least we can do for you, for us and for our country.”

With the help of staff and numerous young volunteers, along with Khoury’s loyal clients (who generously donated meat and poultry), a variety of hot meals incorporating carbohydrates and proteins, sandwiches and salads have been distributed to many, including selfless medical doctors, volunteers and families in need.

“With the donations, I cannot tell you how much people love to help each other — it’s overwhelming,” Khoury, 45, told Arab News.

He collaborated with the Lebanese Red Cross, the Lebanese Food Bank and local NGO Hot Pot Meal to deliver food to different parts of Beirut, such as Gemmayze, Mar Mikhael and Karantina, which were all severely damaged by the explosions.

“No picture or video could describe the damage that has occurred,” he explained, adding how the country was already suffering from an economic meltdown and the coronavirus pandemic. “In the early hours, people were busy helping each other, takingothers to hospitals, and burying the dead. But now, they are very angry at the whole system. Our government has resigned, but this is not the solution — the whole corrupt system has to step down. This explosion broke the last bone in our back.”

Having previously worked for NGOs, Khoury opened “Dry & Raw” in February 2020; a few months after the October uprising that witnessed nationwide anti-government protests.

Encouraging local food production, Khoury claims the conceptual shop is the “first of its kind” in Lebanon, offering organic, vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian foods, which have been produced in-house.

In addition, select produce is grown at the shop’s own farm.

Khoury recalled: “People criticized the fact that we opened the shop in the midst of an economic crisis, but we said: ‘This is the future and we should really start local production now’.”