In case you weren’t aware of it, Salt Awareness Week starts today and the experts at the British Dietetic Association (BDA) have issued some easy to understand facts and tips for consumers.
How Much Salt Should We Consume?
The recommended daily salt intake is just 6g, and less for children. On average we consume 8.6g (about two teaspoons).
Some of the salt we consume comes from:
> The salt we use in cooking;
> Salt we add at the table.
Surprisingly, about 75 per cent of our salt intake comes from salt already added to food we eat, such as meat products, ready meals, soups, pasta sauces, bread and some breakfast cereals.
Handy Salt Tips
Use little or no salt in cooking and try not to add extra salt at the table.
In fact, leave the salt off the dinner table all together.
Cut right back on salty processed foods and ready meals and try and make your own if you can.
Check food labels for salt and go for lower salt choices. There can be a big difference between different brands sometimes.
Ask in restaurants and take-away outlets for no salt.
Food Containing Salt
Salty meats and meat products such as ham, bacon, sausages, pate and salami.
Canned, packet and instant soups.
Ketchup, soy sauce, mayo and pickles.
Stock cubes, gravy powder and salted flavourings.
Any canned food containing salt.
Smoked meat and fish, prawns and anchovies.
Meat and yeast extracts.
Salted snacks, salted nuts, salted biscuits and popcorn.
High salt ready meals, sauces and take-away meals like pizza, Chinese and Indian.
Bread and breakfast cereals (these are an important part of a healthy diet and bread and some cereals contain salt, so check and compare labels before making your choice).
Let’s Be Practical
When looking at food labels, an easy guide is:
High in Salt = more than 1.5g of salt per 100g (or 0.6g of sodium).
Medium in Salt = between 0.3g (0.1g sodium) and 1.5g (0.6g sodium) of salt per 100g.
Low in Salt = 0.3g or less of salt per 100g.
Salt is Sodium Chloride and food labels often list both. It can be confusing.
To convert salt to sodium = divide by 2.5.
To convert sodium to salt = multiply by 2.5.
1g of salt = 0.4g sodium
0.8g sodium = 2g salt
The BDA says: “Eating too much salt can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure. Having high blood pressure is a major risk factor for both heart disease and stroke. By reducing your salt intake it is possible to reduce this risk, so it’s well worth doing.
“A lot of everyday foods are not obviously salty, but do contain high amounts of ‘hidden salt’. It’s easier to make healthier food choices if you are able to quickly check salt content on food labels.
“Switching to a lower salt choice of a food, particularly if you eat it a lot or in large portions, can make a big difference to your daily salt intake. Reducing your intake of salty foods in an Important part of a healthy diet.”