Nowadays, the aphorism “everything in moderation” has become a battle cry for healthy individuals everywhere, but when it comes to sugar and salt, many of us just can’t help ourselves.
Even though both play various essential roles in our body (the brain needs sugar for energy, and the muscles need salt to contract, for example), they can also cause a wide variety of health problems when consumed in excess says a medical expert, Dr Gombalandi Ruben.
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Sugar – particularly fructose – may play a stronger role in high blood pressure and other cardiac conditions than salt.
Some studies reveal that lowering salt consumption under certain levels may do more harm than good.
A research team suggests attempts to reduce salt in a processed food may drive people to eat more and more.
But Professor Francessco Cappuccio of the University of Warwick, said: “The emphasis on reducing sugar and not salt is disingenuous but recent research says otherwise.
“Both should be targeted at population level for an effective approach to cardiovascular prevention.”
Prof Tom Saunders, at King’s College London, said cutting salt intake and losing weight will lower blood pressure.
Salt intake has fallen in the United Kingdom as manufacturers have reduced the amount of salt added to food. This has also been accompanied by a fall in blood pressure a research cited.
Added sugar intake is derived mainly from sugar-sweetened beverages, confectionery, cereal products such as cakes, biscuits, bread, popcorn among others.
Eating too much sugar leads to the deposition of cholesterol and gaining weight. Though our body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells, but high levels of cholesterol deposited within our system can increase our risk of heart disease.
With high cholesterol, we can develop fatty deposits in our blood vessels, eventually, these deposits grow, making it difficult for enough blood to circulate through our arteries; excess LDL builds up as plaque in our heart’s small arteries, causing them to narrow and stiffen.
Thus this reduces blood flow, which can make us feel tired or have short breath and chest pain.
The easiest way to reduce added sugar intake is to limit sugar-sweetened beverage and confectionery consumption, Dr Shu’aibu Isa, another expert suggested.
So which of these vices have a greater impact on our health, and why?
When considering heart health, blood pressure is one of the most significant risk factors and if you have high blood pressure, chances are you might be thinking about lowering your salt intake, but new research is pointing a finger at sugar as the culprit for causing a number of health conditions including high blood pressure, and increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease.
It is not so much naturally-occurring sugars (like those found in fruits) that experts have a problem with but refined and added sugars.
Milk and 100 per cent fruit juice, for example, contain natural sugars and calories, but they also provide nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, protein (in milk), and polyphenols (in juice), says Texas-based registered dietitian Professor Kaleigh McMordie.
Sugary beverages like soda and sweet tea, on the other hand, provide sugar and calories with little nutrition. The same goes for the majority of grab-and-go snack foods that surround us—they don’t provide any nutritional benefits (like fibre, protein, or vitamins and minerals) unless they’re stripped and then added back in later.
Not surprisingly, overconsumption of these products can lead to obesity and nutrient deficiencies in one fell swoop, a research published by Dr Tukur of Gombe State University, says.
Sugar vs Salt: From existing literature, I came to a verdict, and conclude that sugar – particularly fructose – may play a stronger role in high blood pressure and other cardiac conditions.
Also, lowering salt consumption under certain levels may do more harm than good as such it’s always advisable to see your health professional on a regular basis.
Conclusively, neither of the two ingredients is bad for our health, but if compared, sugar is more harmful to our health if consumed in excess.
Experts recommend consuming both sugar and salt in moderation to avoid complications. The key here is to track our intake and control our eating habits; for a better understanding, it is best to consult a dietician, nutritionist or any medical professional.
Gurama, a fellow of doctoral degree, writes from Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Gombe State University