eat less salt

By now we probably all know that too much salt is bad for us. But do you know how much salt you are eating and how much you should be eating?

As it is National Salt Awareness Week from February 29 to March 06, now is a good time to learn your salt facts and cut down…

How much salt should I eat?

Our bodies need a very small amount of salt to function – less than 1g – about a pinch. Current government guidelines say we should eat no more than 6g, but we are consuming an average of 8.1g.

What does too much salt do to me?

There is strong evidence that eating too much salt raises blood pressure and increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Salt has also been linked to stomach cancer, kidney disease, osteoporosis, water retention, obesity and may exacerbate the symptoms of diabetes, asthma, Alzheimer’s and Meniere’s Disease.

Where is the hidden salt?

Only a small amount of the salt we eat is added by us. Around 75% of our salt is ‘hidden’ in processed foods like baked beans, soups and sauces. It is also in processed meat, breads and cereals. Even sweet foods often contain salt. And foods with high salt content don’t necessarily taste salty – so always read the label. Try to eat as much fresh food with no added salt as possible.

How do I check how much salt is in food?

Salt may appear as either salt or sodium, so look for both. Here are guidelines for low, medium and high salt content –

Low – less than 0.30g salt or 0.1g sodium per 100g of food
Medium – less than 1.50g salt or 0.2 – 0.4g sodium per 100g
High – more than 1.50g salt or 0.5g sodium per 100g

If only sodium appears on the label, multiply it by 2.5 to get the level of salt. And remember, we only need around 1g of salt each day, and should definitely not eat more than 6g per day.

Won’t food taste bland without salt?

No. You may think food is bland without salt but that is only because your taste buds have got used to eating too much. Cut down on the salt and your taste buds will adjust. Add herbs and spices to food to give it more taste instead.