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Costa Rican diet contains too much salt, Health Ministry says

March 8, 2021

The average Costa Rican adult consumes twice the recommended value of salt each day, according to the Health Ministry. Ticos ingest 11.3 grams of salt per day, on average — equivalent to more than two teaspoons.

“The Health Ministry reminds the population of the counterproductive effects that excessive sodium consumption can cause,” it said in a press release.

Excessive salt and sodium intake is associated with an increase in blood pressure, even in otherwise healthy people, and is a risk factor for more serious diseases.

“High sodium consumption and insufficient potassium intake contribute to high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke,” the World Health Organization says.

“Salt intake of less than 5 grams per day for adults helps to reduce blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and coronary heart attack. The principal benefit of lowering salt intake is a corresponding reduction in high blood pressure.”

The Health Ministry recommends preparing foods with less salt and monitoring “hidden” sources, such as sauces, condiments and dressings.

One tablespoon of Salsa Lizano, for instance, contains 360 mg of sodium — 15% of the daily recommended value.

Some simple tips to help the population use less salt are:

  • Use non-salt sources to flavor meals, such as onion, garlic or sweet chili.
  • Reduce the use of sauces.
  • Limit the consumption of packaged snacks.
  • Drain and rinse canned vegetables.
  • Remove the salt shaker from the table.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and do not add salt to fruit.

In Costa Rica, the majority of consumed sodium is consumed through salt that is added during cooking or at the table.

The WHO says reducing salt intake is “one of the most cost-effective measures countries can take to improve population health.”

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