MALAYSIA recorded a new highest daily Covid-19 cases of 23,564 on Aug 20, and the trend is on the rise. The cumulative cases as of that date was 1,513,024, while the death toll was 13,713.

Among the Covid-19 deaths in Malaysia, hypertension is one of the commonest underlying comorbidities. Studies have shown that people with hypertension have higher risk of developing severe illnesses, intensive care admission, and death.

According to the National Morbidity and Mortality Survey 2019, three in 10 people in Malaysia have hypertension. It is more worrying that almost half of them are unaware they are having hypertension.

Without seeking proper medical treatment, being hypertensive does not only expose them to higher risk of developing severe illnesses from Covid-19 infection, but also increases the risk of them getting a heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and even premature death.

As a strategy to prevent and control hypertension, the World Health Organisation recommended reducing the intake of salt to less than 5g (about 1 teaspoon) per day. Evidence supports that reducing salt intake can decrease blood pressure, lower cardiovascular diseases and the risk of stroke.

It is estimated that 2.5 million deaths can be prevented every year if the global population’s salt intake can achieve 30% reduction by 2025.

Here are some tips to reduce salt intake in your meal during cooking:

1. Use more spice like lime juice, lemongrass and herbs,

2. Reduce the use of salt, soy sauce or sauces in cooking,

3. Use natural ingredients instead of processed food for cooking,

4. If needed, add salt after the fire is off,

5. Soak dried food like anchovies, dried fish, dried prawns before cooking to reduce the salt content.

You can get more recipes on tastier dishes with less salt from https://bit.ly/2UuuLU2.

Even when home-cooking is not possible, you can choose lower salt content food wisely by using
these tips:

1. Choose food cooked using natural ingredients instead of processed food,

2. Choose white rice or brown rice, instead of flavoured rice,

3. Ask for less salt or monosodium glutamate in food,

4. Replace salty snacks with fresh fruits,

5. Read food labels before buying, and choose those with “reduced sodium”, “low sodium”, “very low sodium” or “sodium free”.

6. Request for gravy, sauce or salad dressing separately from food upon ordering.

For more tips and videos on salt reduction, visit the Health Ministry’s portal at: https://bit.ly/KKMGaram.

Blood pressure can be further controlled by eating more fruits and vegetables, avoiding saturated fat, being physically active, avoiding smoking, reducing alcohol intake and managing stress.

Change may not be fast and it is not always easy, but with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped. Act now and choose to live healthier today! Eat well, live well, be well!

Dr Yoong Lee Yeen and
Dr Feisul Idzwan Mustapha,
Health Ministry of Malaysia