"The WHO recommends a daily salt intake of less than five grams per adult or just under a teaspoon. The recommendation is even lower for children, depending on their energy needs," Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO regional director for South-East Asia said in a message on the occasion of World Heart Day.

High salt intake increases the risk of high blood pressure and is associated with heart disease, stroke and other diseases. An estimated 2.5 million deaths could be prevented each year if global salt consumption were reduced to the recommended level, she said.

Singh added that reducing salt consumption is a cost-effective public health intervention and needs a multi-pronged and multi-sectoral approach in which everyone has to contribute.

Governments have a critical role to play and must create awareness and develop policies that enable populations to consume adequate quantities of safe and healthy diet, with low salt content, she added.

The food industry needs to be engaged to reduce salt content and provide healthy food options by reformulating processed foods to reduced salt options, said Singh.

Simple household-level interventions such as adding less salt to food while cooking, removing the salt dispenser from the dining table, limiting the availability of high salt ready-to-eat food, increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables and guiding children's taste buds through a diet of mostly unprocessed foods without adding salt would go a long way in improving the health of people, she added.

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