Salt is one of the best flavor enhancers in the world. Culinary products become more tasty and fragrant, even not very successful dishes easily turn into acceptable ones for guests. However, adding salt to baby food is not recommended.
The sooner a child is accustomed to proper nutrition, the better for his health. For this and other reasons, salt should not be added to the first complementary foods.
A balanced diet does not require added salt
The first thing to understand is that salt is mostly sodium. This mineral is very important for human health if supplied in the correct dosage.
Sodium is involved in the transmission of nerve impulses, maintains the correct acidity of the blood, protects against excessive fluid loss and ensures the normal functioning of the muscles. But its content in food is quite enough without the addition of salt.
The WHO (World Health Organization) recommendation is to limit salt intake to less than 5g/day (2g sodium) for adults and children over 2 years of age. The addition of iodized salt is possible from 12 months of age in a small amount after approval by the pediatrician.
There are situations in which the use of salt is recommended. For example, athletes after intense training to make up for the loss of sodium due to sweating. This does not apply to children under three years of age, since physical activity does not reach such energy costs.
Why shouldn’t salt be added to baby food?
If possible, avoid adding salt to baby food, this element can cause hypertension in the medium and long term, as evidenced by a study published in the journal Nutrients.
However, the most recent research confirms that the relationship between salt intake and blood pressure is not so clear. Hypertension has more to do with genetic predisposition and changes in the microbiota than with sodium intake.
Thus, the reason why salt should not be added to children’s meals is due to the need to “educate” taste preferences. In the future, the child will not refuse unsalted foods.
In addition to limiting salt intake, it is important to avoid adding sugar. This ingredient can negatively affect the functioning of the body because it contributes to intestinal inflammation and increases blood glucose levels. Regular sugar intake early in life is associated with an increased risk of obesity.
Likewise, pay special attention to food labeling. Many everyday foods contain hidden sugar and salt, although their taste does not show it. Examples are packaged tomato sauces or table bread. Carefully check the composition of the product before offering to children.
There is another important point. If you decide to add salt to baby food, consult your pediatrician, especially if you have chronic diseases, so as not to harm the health of the child.