Most of us consume more than the daily recommended intake of salt, increasing our risk of certain health problems and diseases. We look at the dangers of excessive salt in your diet and explore a few simple steps which can help you to cut your salt intake.
What is the recommended daily salt intake?
This recommendation for children does not address the period of exclusive breastfeeding (0–6 months) or the period of complementary feeding with continued breastfeeding (6–24 months).
Babies under a year old should have less than 1g of salt daily. Babies will get adequate amounts of minerals, including sodium and chloride, from breast or formula milk.
Ensuring your child doesn’t eat too much salt can also mean they don’t develop a taste for salty food. Making them less likely to eat too much salt as an adult.
DID YOU KNOW?
Children who have a high salt diet are twice as likely to develop high blood pressure as children who have low salt diets.
Salt and Sodium
Salt and sodium are often used interchangeably, but they’re not the same. Sodium is a mineral which may occur naturally in foods or be added during manufacturing.
Salt is a combination of sodium and chloride. By weight, it is about 40 percent sodium and 60 percent chloride.
The nutritional information on food labels may only give the figure for sodium, therefore it important to know that:
Salt = Sodium x 2.5
Approximate levels of sodium per teaspoon of salt:
1/2 teaspoon salt = 1,150 mg sodium
3/4 teaspoon salt = 1,725 mg sodium
1 teaspoon salt = 2,300 mg sodium
Salt and Your Health
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for stroke and salt is the major factor that raises blood pressure.
Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)
Raised blood pressure is a major risk factor for CHD and salt raises blood pressure.
Salt can damage the lining of the stomach, making it vulnerable to the effects of H.pylori, and salt may also increase the growth and action of the bacterium making it more likely to cause damage.
A high salt diet can cause calcium to be lost from bones and excreted in the urine, making bones. High blood pressure caused by a high salt diet can speed up the loss of calcium from bones, worsening the problem.
A high salt diet can also disrupt the function of the kidneys and cause high blood pressure, this in turn puts a strain on the kidneys leading to kidney disease.
Where is all the salt coming from?
15% of the sodium in our diets occurs naturally in food and the remaining 10% is added to food by us either during cooking or when sitting down to eat.
3 Tips for reducing salt intake
Tip 1: When shopping check labels for sodium content..
Nutrition labels on food packaging make this easy, as most pre-packed foods have a nutrition label on the back or side of the packaging.
By comparing nutrition labels on food packaging when buying everyday items, you can dramatically cut your salt intake by choosing the lower in salt foods.
As a rule, aim for foods that have a low or medium salt content. Try to have high-salt foods only occasionally, or in small amounts.
High salt content is more than 1.5g salt (0.6g sodium) per 100g.
Low is 0.3g salt (0.1g sodium) or less per 100g.
If the amount of salt per 100g is between 0.3g and 1.5g, that may be considered a medium level of salt.
Tip 2: Know which foods are high in salt..
Try to avoid processed foods including packaged meats which are usually preserved with salt and other chemical preservatives that can cause health problems.
Eat a diet high in fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrains. If buying frozen vegetables, ensure they don’t contain seasoning or other sauces containing salt.
If you are going to have crisps, chips or crackers, check the label and choose the ones lower in salt. Don't forget to check the fat and sugars content, too.
Common high salt foods:
- Gravy granules
- Salted and dry-roasted nuts
- Smoked meat and fish
- Soy sauce
- Stock cubes
- Yeast extract
Tip 3: Use less salt when cooking and eating..
When seasoning, use black pepper, fresh herbs and spices instead of salt. Try making your own stock and gravy instead of using cubes or granules, or shop for reduced salt options.
Make sauces with fresh ingredients such as ripe tomatoes and garlic. Try baking or roasting vegetables such as red peppers, tomatoes, courgettes, fennel, parsnips and squash to bring out their flavour.
Remember, simple changes to your diet and how you shop for food, can reduce salt intake and lower your risk of developing health problems.
DID YOU KNOW?
An estimated 2.5 million deaths could be prevented each year if global salt consumption were reduced to the recommended level.
Sea salt, table salt and kosher salt
Sea salt and kosher salt have boomed in popularity in restaurants and supermarket aisles. Many gourmet chefs say they prefer it over table salt for its coarse, crunchy texture and stronger flavour.
But table salt, kosher salt and most sea salts all contain about 40% sodium by weight. Even though sea salt may have some trace levels of minerals like magnesium, potassium and calcium, the amounts are tiny and you can get them from other healthy foods.
Some varieties of sea salt may claim to have less sodium than table salt. Check the nutrition label to compare how a sea salt compares to table salt.
If you are consuming more sea salt than you otherwise would because you think it has less sodium.
Then you may be placing yourself at higher risk of developing high blood pressure, raising your risk of heart disease.
Your International insurance cover
Why not start controlling your salt intake today.