Written by Shakira Hawthorne
So why is salt a major concern in the UK. In the UK we consume too much salt in our diet, which has contributed to many health problems.Of course, salt does have some benefits for example it supports controlling blood pressure, helps with nerve and muscle and maintains acid balance of the blood and it adds flavor to our food as well as acting as a preservative.
In the UK, most of us have been eating too many foods high in salt, this can contribute to the development of long-term health conditions including high blood pressure. In fact, 1 in 4 adults in the UK suffer from high blood pressure. Having high blood pressure can contribute to heart disease, stroke, heart attack, eye and kidney damage, and increased risk of mortality.
So why are we consuming too much salt?
Convenience foods contribute to high levels of salt in the diet but also people may be adding more salt to their food when cooking than they realise as the taste becomes less and less apparent over time.
We understand that many people add salt to boost the flavour however, most of the everyday foods we buy are already high in salt – around 75% of salt is already added to the food we buy.
So how much salt should we consume in our diet?
Adults should consume 6g of salt per day which is about 1tsp for adults but for children less. But as a nation many of us exceed the recommended amount.
So where is the extra salt coming from?
The extra salt is coming from foods including;
- Processed foods, such as take away and readymade meals.
- Salted foods such as nuts.
- Breakfast cereals.
- Salted and smoked fish.
- Canned foods such a soup with added salt.
- Gravy and stock cubes.
- Sauces such as ketchup, BBQ sauce.
- Salty meats such as salami, bacon, ham, and sausages.
What ways can you reduce your salt intake?
Here are some simple and easy tips to help you cut down your salt intake:
- Instead of adding salt to enhance the flavor in your cooking, add pepper, herbs, or spices instead. For example, spices such as paprika, basil, mild chilli powder, or rosemary can be added to your chicken.
- Roast your veg as this can bring out the flavour.
- When cooking, measure out how much salt you put in your food rather than sprinkling it on.
- When buying foods switch to unsalted ones for example peanuts and popcorn for unsalted.
- Instead of buying gravy granules or stock make your own gravy or sauces.
- When buying canned foods choose ones not salted.
- Look at the food labels and the information on everyday foods you buy, look at foods with low salt and reduced in salt. Those that are low in salt will show in green on food labels.
- Shop in different supermarkets or online and compare brands so you can see which products are better and have less salt, so you know which is best to buy to avoid high salt intake.
- A good tip for eating out is to try not to add sauces or have them on the side as these can be high in salt.
You can adopt these tips into your own lifestyle and by doing so, contribute to a healthy and balanced lifestyle.