By Shweta Vepa
Whether it’s the good old dal chawal or the staple roti sabji, it all feels rather incomplete without a dash of pickle and a generous serving of papad. And of course, the Indian version of consuming vegetables involves a whole lot of purees, masalas and ghee. While these unhealthy foods might please our palate, the bitter truth is that they are very high on, you guessed it—sodium.
According to a Special Health Report by Harvard Medical School, The American Heart Association recommends the daily sodium intake at 1,500mg a day. However, contrary to this recommendation, the average consumption of salt is a whopping 3,400mg a day (1 1/2 teaspoons). The study reveals that only 10% of the sodium in our diet is from the natural content in foods, 10% is from the shaker, and 80% comes from processed and restaurant food. Don’t lose heart, though! The high salt content in papads, pickles and purees doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to give them up altogether. The good news is that your favourite foods can be made healthier by switching to mineral salt.
Often, our idea of Indian comfort food is incomplete without a dash of pickle. In fact, pickle may not exactly be on your junk food list but the truth is that any pickle requires large quantities of salt as a preservative. Moreover, according to The George Institute for Global Health, a quarter of products don't meet the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India's nutritional labelling guidelines. This means that you can be misinformed while making a purchase. Store-bought pickles also contain high amounts of artificial preservatives, colourings and flavourings. At its core, the pickling process itself robs all ingredients of their nutrients. The fruits and vegetables to be pickled are usually chopped into small pieces, coated with salt and left under the sun to dry. Following this, all the ingredients are further pickled with large quantities of oil and spices.
Here’s a solution: Why don't you try making your own pickle by swapping white salt with mineral salt? The problem with pickle is that every serving contains a huge amount of salt per serving. And so, excessive consumption of pickles can lead to high blood pressure and also cause dehydration. mineral salt contains potassium which is known to reduce blood pressure. Along with potassium, it also contains sodium, calcium, chloride and magnesium that act as natural electrolytes and prevent dehydration.
Deep-fried, roasted or masala—we all have our favourite version of the papad. Typically, a papad is made of dough that is a combination of rice, flour, lentils, black gram, salt, spices and peanut oil. After the papads are rolled out, they are left in the sun to dry. Seems rather harmless, doesn't it? Well, salt is again at the helm of affairs when it comes to prolonging the shelf life of papads. According to a study conducted by The George Institute of Global Health, papads contain an anywhere between 2mg to 4000mg of salt per 100gm. This is proof that even when papad can be made with as little as 2mg of salt, manufacturers add up to 4000mg! In addition to salt, papads are also high on spices.
The combination of different flours and lentils makes papads hard to digest. They’re also associated with bloating and gas. Excessive consumption of papads leads to them sticking to the intestinal tract, leading to digestive issues. By swapping white salt with mineral salt in your papad, you can counter its harmful effects. mineral salt boosts the production of digestive enzymes and aids the digestion process. Its combination of 84 minerals aids detoxification by cleansing the colon, thus reducing unnatural bloating.
It’s the same story with purees. The Indian palate is accustomed to unhealthy foods like vegetable and meat preparations in thick gravies. Supermarkets offer us the convenience of ready-made purees. Again, these are loaded with preservatives and salt. Thick gravies laden with salt and masalas are a sure shot recipe for acid reflux. Heavy meals also have a tendency to interfere with your sleep. We suggest sticking to simple homemade purees made with mineral salt. The combination of minerals in this salt helps regulate the acidity levels, offering respite for acid reflux. It also contains magnesium, known to be a natural muscle relaxant, which promotes better sleep.
The study for Harvard Medical School points to white salt as a leading cause of hypertension, kidney and cardiovascular disease. And we’re sure you too are experiencing the ill effects of salt consumption in your most-loved pickles, papad and purees. But there is a way out of this conundrum. Switch from white salt to mineral salt in your food preparations. It contains more than 80 body-friendly minerals with none of the unhealthy effects of white salt, and will add more flavour to your favourite accompaniments too! Whatever you do, remember that the key to healthy living is balance. Reducing the consumption of unhealthy foods and switching to healthier alternatives is the first step in that direction.
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