Our body tissues are made up of vast number of cells which require enough salt to function properly. Salt plays a vital role in transporting water around the body, and in transmitting messages between the brain and the rest of the body. However, as with most things, too much salt in our diets can lead to problems such as water retention, raised blood pressure, and ultimately a higher risk of heart attack, kidney disease and stroke, so it’s worth keeping within safe limits.

Healthy adults only need about 1500 milligrams of sodium each day. This is the amount of sodium in 2/3 teaspoon of salt. The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) recommends no more than 3g/day for children aged four to six years, and no more than 6g/day for healthy adults, however national food surveys show that many of us still exceed this recommendation by up to 33%. Furthermore, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommend that we should all aim to have no more that 3g/day by 2025, and that people at risk of heart disease should already be halving their salt intake.

How do we control our salt intake

  1. Read labels

Look on the label for the nutrition analysis of the product. If you can choose between products, then choose the one lowest in sodium. This table shows what should be considered as high, medium, and low in sodium / salt (per 100g)

  Low Medium High
Salt 0 – 0.3g 0.3 – 1.5g More than 1.5g
Sodium 0 – 0.1g 0.1 – 0.6g More than 0.6g

 2.  Spice up your food without salt!

Flavour food with fresh and dried herbs and spices:

Rosemary, parsley, coriander, ginger, garlic, paprika, etc. are good alternatives to salt. Mixed spices  usually have salt and sodium added to it; therefore it is important to read the label

 3. Use food in its most natural form and limit the following

ketchup, soy sauce, mayonnaise, pickles • stock cubes, gravy powder and salted flavourings • tinned food containing salt • smoked meat and fish, prawns and anchovies • meat and yeast extracts • cheese • salted snacks like crisps, nuts, biscuits, popcorn • ready meals, sauces and takeaway meals • pasta sauce • bread and breakfast cereals.

Reducing your intake of salty foods can dramatically improve your health outcomes…

…not to be taken with a pinch of salt!

Contributor: Melissa Ludick – FEMINA HEALTH Dietician

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