Most Australians eat far too much salt. Salt raises blood pressure, and can lead to stroke, heart and kidney disease and oedema (fluid buildup).
Reducing salt to the level advised by the Heart Foundation of 6 grams per day (6,000 mg or about 1 teaspoon) would prevent about a fifth of all strokes and heart attacks!
Salt is also called sodium chloride. It is the sodium in salt that can be bad for you.
Most dietary salt is hidden
You are probably eating more salt than you realise, as most dietary salt is hidden. Seventy five percent comes from processed foods such as breads, cereals, soups, cheese, sauces and ready-made meals.
Only 15% of the total sodium in our food is added during cooking or at the table. Restaurant and takeaway foods generally contain high salt levels.
How to reduce salt
· Avoid adding salt while cooking or at the table. Cut back on salty foods.
· Choose ‘low-salt’ brands when shopping.
· Read food labels and select low sodium products. Low-salt foods have less than 120 mg sodium per 100 grams of food.
· Eat more fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, poultry, unsalted nuts and milk.
· Potassium chloride salt-substitutes are useful but avoid them in kidney disease or with certain diuretics (fluid tablets).
· To add further flavour, try vinegar, lemon juice, fresh herbs, garlic, ginger, lime, wine, onion or shallots.
· Taste buds adjust quickly to lower sodium levels. Within a few weeks, they become more sensitive to salt and you will notice the flavours in food that salt used to mask.
The above article is based on the book salt matters
It explains everything you ever wanted to know about salt: why we need less salt for a healthy lifestyle, how to choose low-salt foods and practical advice on how to achieve independence from salt.
By Dr Trevor Beard