We know we need to reduce our salt intake to improve our health and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke (1), but reducing your salt intake can be harder than it seems!
Did you know that 75% of the salt we consume each day is already in packaged and pre-prepared foods? A large proportion is hidden in the processed foods and takeaways we buy e.g., processed and cured meat, cereals, shop bought sandwiches, bread, pizza, ready meals, jarred sauces, condiments, soy sauce, vinegar, stock cubes, crisps, biscuits etc.
During Salt Awareness Week this year (14th-20th March) , an initiative organised by Action on Salt, the campaign asks the food industry to shake their salt habit and reduce the salt content of foods on our supermarket shelves, to shine a spotlight on a simple yet effective approach that will improve our health.
It's recommended that adults eat no more than 6g of salt a day - that’s only a teaspoon! The values below show what to look for on a food label to see if a product constitutes as ‘low in salt’ (0.3g or less per 100g)
Reduce your salt in your diet by following FBF’s top tips:
- Be creative with flavouring/seasoning your food by using alternatives to salt - most dried herbs and spices can be added to curries, stews, chilli con carne, soups, chutneys, rice dishes, pasta dishes, vegetable dishes etc.
- Removing salt from the table can be beneficial
- Choose low salt varieties of your favourite condiments, e.g., ketchup or barbeque sauce, soy sauce and marmite
- Make your own pasta sauces to avoid the added salt in jars
- Swap your sandwich fillers – cook a whole chicken to use throughout the week and avoid processed meats.
- Choose fresh meat over processed meat, e.g., steak over mince, pork over sausages or gammon
- Choose legumes for your plant based proteins, e.g., beans, pulses, lentils, chickpeas.
- Don’t forget about the fresh flavours you can add garlic, onion, lime, lemon, ginger, fresh basil, parsley, coriander, dill, tarragon etc.
- Compare the salt content of your foods using nutrition labels.
Whilst we don’t need to cut out salt completely - as salt (or more specifically sodium) is an essential mineral for fluid regulation in the body - it’s important to be mindful of how much salt we’re having to reduce the risk of having high blood pressure, which in turn increases your risk of heart attacks and strokes.
So, next time you reach for the salt, how about experimenting with another flavouring instead?
1. Pandian, J.D., et al., (2018). Prevention of stroke: a global perspective. The Lancet, 392(10154), pp.1269-1278.