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Irish chef Brian McDermott warns about salt usage after having his own health scare

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Community Chef Brian McDermott 
is urging people to cut down on their salt usage
Irish chef and cook book author Brian McDermott, who teaches community groups across Ireland how to cook healthily, today warned of the dangers of excess salt in the Irish diet as a new World Health Organisation (WHO) in Europe report entitled “Mapping salt reduction initiatives in the WHO European Region” is published.

Brian, aged 35 from Donegal, a chef for many years, who runs the communitychef.ie website is urging people in Ireland to reduce their salt intake to 5g per day (the equivalent of about one teaspoon) in order to reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease. He believes that in Ireland we use far too much salt, not only on our meals but we also consume foods which contain hidden salt.

Reduce your salt intake to 1 teaspoon (5g) per day
His comments come as WHO/Europe published this week a report entitled “Mapping salt reduction initiatives in the WHO European Region”- an overview of current initiatives in European countries. Several countries have already reaped significant results from measures including food and product labelling, consumer education, updating of national dietary guidelines and negotiating with food manufacturers to reduce the salt content in processed foods. 

Brian's warning to the public to reduce their intake of salt follows a health scare a few years ago when, after 17 years of working as a professional chef, he had to quit work suddenly because of severely blocked arteries and dangerous levels of blood pressure and cholesterol.

According to Brian, citing the WHO research “By reducing salt intake to less than 5 g per day (the equivalent of about 1 teaspoon) it is possible to reduce the risk of stroke by 23% and the rate of cardiovascular disease by 17%. The daily intake of most people in the WHO European Region is about 8–11 g, far above the recommended level. But many people don’t realise how many foods contain hidden salt and that you should not gauge your intake by the amount of table salt you use." 


Mapping salt reduction initiatives in the WHO European Region
published this week by the World Health Organisation
He says that the latest report from the WHO shows that 80% of salt intake in the European Union comes from processed foods such as cheese, bread and ready meals. "Many people consume far more salt than they realize, with negative results for their blood pressure and general cardiovascular health. This is why you need to check the salt levels on the labels of all processed foods." he added.

According to the World Health Organisation the High Salt/High Risk foods which contain hidden salt are bread, meat products, cheese, ready meals, soup, breakfast cereals, fish products, crisps and savoury snacks, catering meals, restaurant meals, sauces, condiments and spices and processed potato products.

Brian says he will continue to promote awareness on keeping salt intake to a minimum. Through his cookery classes and demonstrations, people can learn how to take simple steps to reduce their risk of high blood pressure, stroke & cholesterol.

"By eating a balance diet, reducing salt intake to less than 5g a day, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, reducing levels of alcohol consumption and stress you can live a longer, better life," says Brian. "I believe my problems were all down to stress and diet. It's amazing how a few simple adjustments in your life can make you feel so much better.” 

Follow Brian on twitter @communitychef and to find out more check out www.communitychef.ie


For more from Zack the Chef see www.IrishFoodGuide.ie

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