Word on Health

Word On Salt Reduction

Thanks to Consensus Action On Salt & Health (CASH) for their contribution to our on-air report and for the use of the support information below. To find out more about CASH visit www.actiononsalt.org.uk

What diseases are associated with a high salt intake?  There is strong evidence that links our current high salt intake to high blood pressure. High blood pressure is the main cause of strokes and a major cause of heart attacks. It is also widely recognised that our high salt diet has other adverse effects, such as osteoporosis, asthma, and is closely linked to cancer of the stomach.

Should children have a lower salt diet too?  YES! Many children are consuming as much salt as adults. There is evidence that a high salt intake in childhood may predispose them to getting high blood pressure later in life. A high salt intake along with low calcium intake may also predispose children to developing osteoporosis later in life. A high salt intake is dangerous to babies and very young children.

What is the difference between sodium and salt? Sodium is part of the component of salt, whereas salt is made up of sodium and chloride.

So how do I work out how much salt is in a product if it is not labelled? All labels give sodium and some now salt. To find out how much salt is in a given quantity of sodium, you have to multiply by 2.5.

How much salt do we require a day?  We can survive on as little as 3 grams a day. The current government recommendation is to eat a maximum of 6 grams a day, which is equivalent to one teaspoon of salt.

How do I know when shopping which are low and high salted foods?

  • 0.1g sodium is low
  • 0.2 - 0.4g sodium is medium
  • 0.5g sodium is high based on per 100g of food

 

Which foods are the highest salt containing foods?
The highest salt containing foods are processed foods like ready meals, baked beans, soups, processed meat, such as ham and bacon, smoked foods, restaurant and takeaway food, some cereals and even bread. It is difficult to avoid eating some of these foods but look for low salt alternatives instead, or eat fresh food which has no added salt.

If I like the taste of salt, what alternatives can I use on my cooking? Cooking, table, rock, sea and garlic salt are all identical to table salt and should not be used. Alternatives you could use include:

  • Herbs
  • Spices - such as curry powder
  • Mustard powder
  • Lemon or lime juice
  • Vinegar
  • Red or white wine, cider or beer
  • Onions, garlic, shallots, ginger, chillies etc

 

If you really can't get used to not having salt with some foods then try a salt substitute such as LoSalt which contains potassium instead of sodium.

Are there any incidences where I should up my salt intake- e.g. if I have been physically working hard on a hot day, or when abroad in a hot climate? No, if you eat little or no salt then there is no salt in the sweat. The salt concentration in sweat is controlled in the exactly the same way as the urine. The body will adjust and hold onto any salt if a lot is being lost in the sweat. There is no evidence that CASH is aware about of athletes needing to consume more salt.

Will my taste buds adapt to eating less salt and how long will it take? Yes, you will find that after adapting to eating less salt your taste buds will become more sensitive to salt and within 3-4 weeks you will have adjusted and dislike the taste of salty food. Food tastes far better when it is fresh and has not had salt added.

Listen to this weeks radio report

All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.