A guide: how to reduce salt intake

If you're looking for information on how to reduce the salt intake in your diet, the first thing you need to do is actually calculate how much you currently consume.

The vast majority of the salt we eat does not come in foods which appear obviously "salty" to us. While it is apparent that you should not eat too many crisps, or too much bacon, salt is much less conspicuous in things like cereals, biscuits and bread. Try to check the labels on everything in your diet, and keep a note of how much salt you consume.

The NHS estimates that the average amount of salt consumed by each Briton per day is around the 9g figure - and while this might not sound a lot, the recommended daily allowance for both men and women is only 6g, and children should have much less still.

Be careful to note, on products' nutritional labels, that a "sodium" listing only represents about 40% of the salt content: while 6g is the recommended daily allowance of salt, the recommended amount of sodium is only 2.5g.

What is the problem with salt?

Despite its demonisation, salt remains an important part of our diets, helping to regulate the concentration of fluids in our bodies. However, consuming too much salt imbalances this concentration, increasing the amount of fluid in our bodies and, in turn, increasing our blood pressure. A higher blood pressure puts us at a significantly greater risk of heart disease and stroke.

Some general tips

  • Cut down on obviously salt foods, like crisps and bacon
  • Always read the labels and check how much sodium or salt is in the product
  • When cooking, taste before adding seasoning - and try to hold back
  • Avoid using an abundance of condiments, especially when they drown out the taste of the meal
  • Try buying tinned foods in water rather than brine

For more information, consult your GP.

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