It is true that much of the salt we eat is hidden in foods that we buy from outside our homes. When we add salt to our food we can see it, but when it is already added, it can be difficult to know how much we are eating.
What is the concern about eating salt?
Salt’s chemical name is sodium chloride. Sodium is the component in salt that becomes a concern to our health when we eat too much salt. Salt has been linked to:
- High Blood Pressure
- Cardiovascular Disease (heart disease, heart failure, stroke)
- Kidney disease and kidney stones
- Stomach cancer
- Water retention and bloating
Reducing high blood pressure has the potential to lower your risk of developing a stroke or heart attack. High blood pressure, hypertension, is a reading that is above140/90mmHg. High blood pressure can develop through eating too much salt, carrying excess body fat and a lack of exercise. There is good research evidence to show by reducing salt intake, you can reduce your blood pressure. The studies known as DASH, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, along with other studies, demonstrated that a change in the way we eat reduces high blood pressure.
How do we reduce the amount of hidden salt we eat?
I have shared an excerpt from Eating for You to outline ways to reduce salt intake. Further tips are included in the book.
Research suggests that we shouldn’t have more than 1500mg sodium from all foods per day. This is about ¾ teaspoon salt in total, and includes salt in processed foods and salt added to cooking and at the table. The upper limit for sodium in the Nutrient Reference Values has been set at 2300mg, which is slightly more than 1 teaspoon of salt. As recommended by the Heart Foundation, aim to eat foods that have 120mg of sodium per 100g of product or less. This information is included on the nutrition panel. Ways to reduce sodium intake are to:
- Choose foods that have ‘no added salt’ or are ‘salt reduced’. Check the ‘salt reduced’ products against other brands as sodium content does vary. One brand of ‘salt reduced’ may have more sodium than a standard product in another brand. Always compare the sodium content per 100g.
- Be cautious in your selection of salty foods such as stock, sauces, pickled vegetables, soup powders, processed meats, salty snacks, and salted nuts. Look for ‘no added salt’ snacks and ‘salt reduced’ sauces and seasonings.
- Use herbs and spices to flavour your food.”
You can reduce how much salt is added to your food and hidden salt, without losing flavour. Herbs, spices and oil are great flavour enhancers.