You might be familiar with Guardians of the Galaxy, but what about the Guardian of Health?
As the titular superhero in a new Ministry of Health video titled “The Great A-salt”, our Guardian of Health can be seen battling a trio of salt villains and recusing diners from the perils of salt.
It is a light-hearted way to capture our attention and highlight the dangers of consuming too much salt in our diet.
But don’t just watch the video. You have to watch what you eat too, shared Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
“Preventive care is a national priority and part of our Healthier SG movement. We can all take care of our own health by choosing healthier food options,” PM Lee added.
Also sharing the clip in a post, Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung said, “This is all part of #HealthierSG, where we will take charge of our own health and develop healthy living habits.”
War against salt
Salt can be as addictive as nicotine and alcohol since it triggers the release of dopamine, which explains why we instinctively reach for and even crave it.
However, excessive salt in our diet is detrimental to health and increases the risk of stroke, heart diseases and kidney failure.
So, do we have a problem with salt? Apparently so.
Based on findings from the 2018 National Nutrition Survey, Singaporeans consume an average of 9 grams of salt daily, nearly twice the amount recommended by the World Health Organisation (5 grams).
As such, there is now a campaign to reduce our daily salt intake by about 15 per cent over five years.
Call it a case of benign paternalism, but declaring war on salt and encouraging a low-sodium diet is not only justifiable, but necessary.
Health vs Taste, not a zero-sum game
But as a food-obsessed nation, is there a way to reduce our sodium intake without depriving our taste buds?
According to the Health Promotion Board, there are plenty of ways to do so.
The easiest way is to replace salt with the much-maligned MSG (surprisingly healthier than salt) or switch to low-sodium substitutes.
If you are worried about how the latter would affect the taste of your favourite dishes, check out our Health Minister doing a blind test between dishes cooked with table salt and low-sodium salt.
Alternatively, get creative with seasonings. Limit the use of sauces (i.e. oyster, soy and fish) and use spices and herbs instead.
One can also add dried mushrooms, seaweed or even aged cheese to give food an umami or savoury depth.
Lastly, look out for products with the Healthier Choice symbol (seen above) since they contain at least 25 per cent less sodium as compared to similar products in the same food category.
If a life of bland food fills you with dread, there is good news.
A new study has shown that our taste buds can adapt to low-salt diets over time, which means food will taste just as good once we overcome the initial hurdle.
Observing a healthy diet is just the type of preventive care behaviour that underpins the new Healthier SG initiative.
While the PAP Government and our healthcare providers do their part to tackle Singapore’s changing health needs (like spending more on public health programmes and beefing up our healthcare capacity) we have to be responsible for maintaining our own health and keeping chronic diseases at bay.
To take the first step towards a healthier diet, click here to visit HealthHub for more tips on how you can lower your sodium intake.
Images taken from HealthHub, Health Promotion Board, and Ministry of Health/YouTube