Sunday, March 19, 2017
It's Salt Awareness Week. A lot of people in the UK eat too much salt without even realising it, so here we take a look at where salt is hiding, why too much can be dangerous, and what you can do to reduce your intake.
According to the NHS, adults should not be eating more than 6g of salt a day - to give you an idea of how much that is, it's approximately one teaspoon's worth.
When we're talking about salt, we're not just referring to the seasoning you put on your fish and chips, we're talking about salt ingredients that might be in pre-cooked/prepared food that you are buying.
When buying food from the supermarket be sure to check the nutrition labels. This will give you an idea of how much salt is in the food you are buying, and allow you to make an informed decision when purchasing food. Be aware that on some food labels salt is also referred to as sodium chloride. Generally food labels in the UK work on a traffic light system, with red showing high sodium or salt levels and green showing low levels. Typically, high salt foods should only be consumed occassionally or in small amounts, so try to aim for foods with amber or green measures of salt.
There are certain foods that can come in a variety of salt levels, so be sure to compare the labels when purchasing so that you are getting the product with the least salt. For example, the following foods may have varying salt levels: bread products, cereal, crisps, pizza, ready meals, soups, pasta sauces, sauces such as ketchup or mayonnaise.
As well as hiding in certain prepackaged foods, there are certain foods which are high in salt and you should be mindful of them when preparing and consuming meals. The following foods are high in salt, and should ideally be eaten in small amounts and less frequently: bacon, cheese, olives, salted nuts, gravy granules, ham, soy sauce, stock cubes, smoked meat and fish, salted fish.
Consuming too much salt can have a variety of negative effects on your health.
Too much salt in your diet can increase your blood pressure, increase your chances of having a stroke, be a contributing factor to obesity and coronary heart disease, and affect your kidney function.
It is important to be mindful of salt levels in food for babies or children under the age of 11. The NHS recommends that they have less salt than adults, with the following daily recommendations for each age group:
- 1 to 3 years - 2g salt a day
- 4 to 6 years - 3g salt a day
- 7 to 10 years - 5g salt a day
- 11 years + - 6g salt a day
For more information on salt levels for babies and children visit the NHS website.