Salt

This leaflet explains how eating too much salt as part of your diet can have have an impact on your health.

 

 Content

Impact Eating Too Much Salt 

Eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure, particularly if you are overweight or if high blood pressure runs in your family. This is concerning, as high blood pressure increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease.

As people with diabetes are a higher risk of developing increased blood pressure, it is still important to manage your salt intake even if your blood pressure is normal. It is also important to know that as we get older, our risk of high blood pressure increases. 

Recommended Amount 

Most people eat far more salt than they need, with the average adult in the UK consuming 8g of salt each day.

  • A maximum of 6g of salt per day (2.4g of sodium), which is about one level teaspoon each day is recommended 

It is not just the salt that you add to your meal that is included in this value. The salt which is already added to foods, as well as the salt that is added during cooking are included in the recommended amount. 

Sources of Salt 

Most of the food we eat already has salt added, which means it can be difficult to tell how much you’re eating. Listed below are examples of such foods:

  • Crisps
  • Salted popcorn
  • Salted nuts
  • Readymade sauces
  • Ready meals
  • Tinned foods soaked in brine

You may be surprised to find how much salt is in every day foods that don’t taste salty such as; cereals, biscuits, breads and cakes. If you eat a lot of these foods, the amount of salt can add up.

The amount of salt will vary between brands and varieties, so checking food labels can help you choose. 

Food Labels 

A good way to work out how much salt you’re eating is to check the food label or nutritional information on the packaging of any food you’re buying or eating.

When looking at a label you may also see salt written as sodium. This is just another way of looking at the salt content of the food. You can work out how much salt is in the food in the following way:

SALT = Sodium (grams) x 2.5

If you’re eating pre-prepared food, like a soup, pizza or ready-meal, look at the ‘amount per serving’ to see how much salt is in your whole meal. It is just important to check that you’re serving as the same portion size as that suggested on the label.

Some food labels will have the traffic light colours which can help you make the right choice. 

Table 1: How Much Is Too Much? 

 

Low

Medium

High

Salt

0 – 0.3g

0.3 – 1.5g

More than 1.5g

Sodium

0 – 0.1g

0.1 – 0.6g

More than 0.6g

Strategies to Reduce Salt 

  • Check the nutritional information and pick lower salt options.
  • Add less salt when cooking.
  • Don't add salt to your food at the table.
  • As you get used to the taste of food without salt, cut it out completely.
  • Use different flavours as an alternative to salt, e.g. black pepper, mixed spices, herbs, lemon juice, garlic, chilli (salt substitutes such as LowSalt are not recommended).
  • Eat more fresh food and less packet and tinned foods.
  • If you are following a recipe try using less salt.
  • Limit intake of takeaway foods such as Indian and Chinese.

Further Information 

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