My Dad battles with hypertension, like most black hypertensive patients, he also believes stress to be the major contributory factor. So he doesn’t really take lifestyle modification and his medications seriously. My grandma also has hypertension. Therefore I have a familial history of hypertension.
Hypertension is said to be the leading cause of death globally accounting for about 10 million deaths per year.
According to American college of cardiology, the 40 year risk for developing hypertension stands at 93% for African Americans.
“The World Health Organization estimates that the prevalence of hypertension is highest in the African region, with about 46% of adults aged 25 years and older being hypertensive compared to 35% in the Americas and other HIC, and 40% elsewhere in the world”
So you see, this thing called hypertension, it’s not just about stress, if you’re a black man or woman, you stand a great chance of getting it in the long run.
Working in a renal centre has heightened my concerns about hypertension. Having hypertension is one thing, getting kidney disease as a result of hypertension is another. Once a diagnosis of chronic kidney disease sets in, the next option is either dialysis or renal transplant. The resources expended is a story for another day. Kidney disease is just one of the many complications that can arise as a result of hypertension.
So I’m committing to reducing my risks of getting hypertension and I want you to do the same too. One way to effect that is by cutting out salt.
This is one ingredient to be found in almost every African kitchen. Those Maggie and knorr and Royce bouillon cubes, yeah that’s salt as well.
So here are a few suggestions you and I can begin implementing to cut out salt from our diet.
- Own a bottle of vinegar; I asked a Japanese friend how she could afford to cook with out salt and one pointer she gave me was vinegar. Washing meats, fish with vinegar removes any unwanted. and raw smells. This bring out the texture and fresh flavor of the fish.
- Go salt free for a few meals. Start small; Start with eggs, plantains, white rice. Cut out salt when cooking any of these items. Forget what is the fashion and commit to health now.
- Have side dishes. We can take a page from how Asians eat rice. If your meal wasn’t just white rice and stew, but included a variety of side dishes, then you would have a variety of flavors to taste at any meal time reducing the blandness that is experienced with cutting out salt.
- Shop fresh foods. The best way to do this, is to patronize your local farmers. Going to the markets can be more of a hassle compared to the shopping malls but it’s cheaper in the long run as far as health is concerned. Go once a week or twice a week if you’re constrained for time. We try to savage and mask the staleness of foods by overspicing and over seasoning it. Invest in fresh foods and savor their original tastes instead.
- Choose healthier condiments. Many of us have one or more of these in our kitchens. Condiments such as salad dressings, ketchup, barbecue sauce, hot sauce, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce etc. some have low sodium versions, you can either look out for those or just make your own sauce from scratch. These condiments are more costly and less healthy.
- Limit canned, brined, smoked and processed foods such as Canned beef, sausages, bacon, ham. Salt is used as a preservative in food processing and we are trying to avoid that. Saying to stop these might be tantamount to cutting a limb for some of you, that’s why the suggestion is to limit intake. Go slow.
- Eat more of fruits and vegetables. As salads, smoothies, stir fry, cauliflower/broccoli rice, courgette spaghetti.
- Limit take out, cheeseburgers, chips, hamburger, beef jerky and meals from restaurants are often over seasoned.
What other measures do you have in place to curb salt intake?