Pass the Salt?
Our salt (sodium chloride) intake is proving to be cause for alarm. In our bid to lose weight and adopt healthy eating habits the amount of salt in our diets has been overlooked. Lowering your sodium intake is an important aspect of adopting a healthy diet which is the key to a new healthy you.
There is strong evidence to show the link between high salt intake and increased blood pressure which is the main cause of strokes and a major cause of heart attack. Salt can also lead to increased anxiety, bring on insomnia and exacerbate conditions like water retention.
Some interesting recent findings show that excess salt can also have an impact on your weight - even though it is 'calorie free'.
Most of us are packing away between 10g and 12g of salt everyday. The Food Standards Agency recommends no more than 6g a day (2.3g of sodium). All labels give the sodium content on products and more and more are showing totals of salt. Salt is sodium chloride. Every gram of salt contains 0.4g of sodium. If a food label gives only the sodium content you need to multiply it by two and a half to get the salt content.
So where is the salt in our diets coming from? Many of us have stopped using salt whilst cooking and salt is no longer the standard dining table condiment. However, whilst salt occurs naturally in many foods the main source of salt in the UK is salt added in food processing and manufacturing. Foods that can be high in salt include bread, breakfast cereals, processed meats products, soups, sauces, ready meals and sandwiches. Check the label on processed foods to see how much sodium they contain. To give you a rough guideline, more than 0.5g Sodium (1.25g Salt) is too much and less than 0.1g Sodium (0.25g Salt) is sufficient.
Get clued up to hidden salts in foods by looking at the extended nutritional information on products and the weight loss resources food database. This will enable you to monitor the sodium content in your diet. Compare nutritional data on products and choose those with less sodium.
- Don’t add salt to your cooking or to food at the table.
- Watch out for sauces, which can be laden with salt; use sparingly.
- Cut down on salty snacks – choose unsalted versions of nuts, snack on dried fruits, fruits and vegetables.
- Cut down on heavily salted foods such as bacon, cheese, ready-prepared meals.
- Buy products with the ‘No Added Salt’ labels.
Weight Loss Resources has a UK food and nutrition database with food diary and tools to help you lose weight and eat more healthily. You can try try it free free for 24 hours.
CASH – Consensus Action on Salt and Health - www.hyp.ac.uk/cash