Less Salt Please

‘Less Salt Please’

See the national campaign to Salt aweness week

High blood pressure (also called hypertension) is known as the silent killer, we often don’t notice when we have it.  According to the British Heart Foundation, having a family history of hypertension in addition to life style risk factors, is responsible for 7 out of 10 strokes and 5 out of 10 heart attacks.  Most of these lifestyle factors are obvious and we all know we should:-

  • Take regular exercise
  • stay a healthy weight
  • avoid smoking
  • keep our habitual alcohol intake fairly low


but also  KEEP OUR SALT INTAKE TO UNDER 6g PER DAY!

CASH, Consensus Action on Salt and Health, is headlining this years’ Salt Awareness Week in March, with the slogan, Less Salt Please!  Many research studies have found strong evidence linking a high salt diet with increased blood pressure but we aren’t always conscious of the amount of salt we are eating.

The British Dietetic Association claims that 75% of the salt we eat is already in the food we buy, and that most of us eat about 8.6g per day.

A CASH survey recently found bread to be the biggest contributor of salt in our diets, and bacon, the second biggest.  Two grilled rashers can contain over 3g salt!  Bakery goods such as brown bread, pastries and crumpets, contain between 0.4 – 0.6g per slice.  The presence of salt keeps baked goods moist, while delaying moulding, so manufacturers are reluctant to cut back.
                    
Steps we can take to keep our salt intake down:
Ready meals and packaged foods are the ones to watch out for, unprocessed simple ingredients such as meat or fish, rice and pasta, fruit and vegetables, naturally have a very low salt content.

  • Cured and processed meats such as bacon, sausages and salamis can be shockingly high.
  • Pickles, and table sauces such as soya sauce, ketchup and brown sauce are very salty.  
  • Home cooking is best – either avoid salt, use low salt stock cubes and low salt potassium chloride when necessary.
  • Salty crisps and nuts can be swapped for raw peanuts in shells, unsalted pistachios or veggie sticks with hummus, guacamole or yoghurt/mint dip.
  • Lemon or lime juice, pepper or chili, spices and fresh herbs can add flavour without adding salt.

To limit our salt intake we need to look carefully at the information on food packaging.  The tendency for some items to list sodium instead of salt, can make it tricky, the amount of sodium has to be multiplied by 2.5 to get the salt content. 
In the US, the DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) has been voted by a team of experts, as the best diet for nutritional value, safety, weight loss, heart health and preventing diabetes.  Their recommendations include lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, low fat and low salt.
The World Cancer Research Fund also claims that 14% of cases of stomach cancer in the UK would be prevented if we ate less than 6g salt per day.
High blood pressure is ‘one of the most important preventable causes of premature ill health and death’ in the UK according to the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), and becoming aware of the salt in our food, is the first step to enable us to keep our salt intake low.

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Or could look like this:


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The menu for a low salt day isn’t necessarily more expensive, and doesn’t have to be without tasty treats, but reducing the amount of pre-prepared foods does require a little more time in the kitchen.

To find out more, ask a question or discuss this topic, please get in touch.

Or for more information, have a look at these sites:
CASH www.actionsalt.org.uk
DASH Diet  www.dashdiet.org
The British Diabetic Association fact sheet on salt:
www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/Salt.pdf
The British Heart Foundation www.bhf.org.uk

Related articles

http://www.wolfson.qmul.ac.uk/images/pdfs/Food_and_the_responsibility_deal.pdf

Professor Macgregor Salt Publications

 




Written by

Registered Nutritionist

Responses

  1. Authur says:

    I loved your blog but can you indicate whether there is a minimum amount of salt we should be eating to maintain health?

    Also I have seen 'low salt' and 'sea salt' in the supermarket next to the normal salt and wonder if these are equivalent or any better that table salt

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