HOW MUCH SALT SHOULD WE EAT?
Salt has been used for centuries to season and preserve food. Most people however would benefit from reducing their intake to healthy levels.
The human body needs sodium chloride, commonly known as salt, as it helps to control the body’s fluid balance and the way muscles and nerves work. The body is generally very efficient in regulating the amount of sodium: if we eat too much salt we become thirsty which encourages us to drink fluids which speed up the excretion of sodium through the kidneys.
Salt and Health - High salt intake however has been linked to a number of health problems including high blood pressure and osteoporosis. There is now reasonably strong evidence to suggest that people with high blood pressure do benefit from a diet containing less salt, thus reducing the incidence of strokes. Some people need to monitor their intake of salt very carefully, particularly the very young and the older generation, both of whom may be unable to excrete sodium efficiently and thereby regulate their body fluid.
How much Salt - The agreed guideline daily amount (GDA) is 6g per day. Surveys have shown that the average adult consumes 8.6g per day! For children the GDA is 2-3g per day. Occasionally the GDA may not apply, for example during exercise salt is lost from the body through sweating and muscle cramps may occur if it is not replaced.
Look at the label - Many supermarket products are labelled with the sodium amount per 100g and per serving. To calculate the amount of salt from sodium, simply multiply the sodium content by 2.5. For example, if the food has a sodium level of 0.2g per serving, the amount of salt will be 0.2 x 2.5 which is equal to 0.5g of salt per serving. Foods that contain 0.3g of salt or less per 100g are low salt. High salt foods contain 1.5g or more per 100g.
Salt Reduction Tips
Do not add salt to water for cooking.
Use herbs, spices, lemon and lime juice to flavour food.
Use fresh stock not stock cubes.
Salt replaces such as Lo Salt or SOLO can help with a lower salt diet but if you have a kidney condition consult your doctor first.
Snack on fruit and unsalted snacks.
Avoid table sauces such as ketchup, pickles and mustard.
Baked beans may also contain high levels.
Eat cured meats occasionally – ham, bacon etc
Choose Breakfast cereals carefully as these often contain high levels of salt.
Luckily for us lots of Supermarkets have ongoing programmes with manufactures with regard to reducing the salt content in lots of the food they sell. Indeed a good start for all of us would be to not put salt on the table.
Your taste buds are very clever and will adapt to less salty food within a month.