A Healthy New Year’s Resolution: Use Less Salt and Sugar



With the dawn of the New Year several days away, everybody is starting to think about resolutions that they will follow from the start of 2012 and throughout the year.

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According to the Collective Prevention Service (CPS) of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, one of those New Year’s resolutions should be on the health front such as fewer intakes of sugar and salt.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO), says that less saturated fats, sugar and salt, and more fruit and vegetables and physical exercise, are needed to counter cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and obesity.

A diet low in energy-dense foods that are high in saturated fats and sugars, and abundant in fruit and vegetables, together with an active lifestyle are among the key measures to combat chronic disease.

Based on the analysis of the best available current evidence and the collective judgment of 30 experts, the emphasis is that energy consumed each day should match energy expenditure.

Evidence suggests that excessive consumption of energy-rich foods can encourage weight gain, the report says and calls for a limit in the consumption of saturated and trans fats, sugars and salt in the diet, noting they are often found in snacks, processed foods and drinks.

The quality of fats and oils in a diet, as well as the amount of salt consumed, can also have an influence on cardiovascular diseases such as strokes and heart attacks.

Many of the deaths attributed to chronic diseases are due to risk factors that could easily be prevented such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, obesity, and low levels of physical activity.

Carbohydrates, should provide the bulk of energy requirements – between 55 and 75 percent of daily intake and free sugars should remain beneath 10 percent. Protein should make up a further 10-15 percent of calorie intake and salt should be restricted to less than 5 grams a day. Intake of fruit and vegetables should be pumped up to reach at least 400 grams a day.

It is a fact that chronic diseases are not only caused by overeating but also by eating an unbalanced diet, citing the influence of high salt consumption on increasing blood pressure and saturated fats contributing to high levels of cholesterol.

Physical activity is a key factor in determining the amount of energy used each day and is therefore fundamental to energy balance and weight control. One hour per day of moderate-intensity activity, such as walking, on most days of the week, is needed to maintain a healthy body weight, especially for those people who spend most of their time sitting down.