While we do need a little salt in our diet, most people consume too much. Too much salt / sodium is negatively associated with a number of health problems e.g. high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, fluid retention etc. Salt is usually higher in packaged, processed and take away foods so switching to eating mostly natural unprocessed foods and cooking most meals from scratch can reduce your salt intake (unless you are piling it up with salt of course).
Sodium…salt…are they the same thing…? Sodium is a mineral found in ‘salt’. Salt you consume is not 100% sodium but usually paired up with another mineral, most often chloride. On nutrition labels salt is know as sodium so look out for that.
Even unsuspecting foods may have a fair bit of sodium, for example 1 sachet of instant soup soup can have over 700mg or 2 slices of bread can have between 200 and 500mg of sodium. Here’s 7 foods that contain more sodium than you may expect:
So how much salt should we eat?
We don’t need much each day. Recommendations are:
-14 years and older: 460-920mg sodium / day
-1-3 yrs: 200-400mg
The upper limits (aka try and not have more than this amount daily) are:
– 14 years and older: 2300mg sodium / day
-1-3 yrs: 1000mg
*The upper limit for those with high blood pressure is less at 1500mg.
But how much sodium in 1 teaspoon of salt (1 tsp = 6g salt)? There is around 2300mg sodium in 1 teaspoon of salt. So if you’re consuming the upper limit of sodium per day then you’d be having 1 teaspoon of salt.
How to reduce sodium / salt in your diet? First by start reducing packaged, processed and take away foods. Cooking meals and making snacks from scratch allows you to control just how much salt goes in. Use other things to flavour your meals to help reduce salt intake e.g. herbs, spices, lemon juice. If you like certain salty foods, why not work on reducing the quantity you have if you can’t cut them out?
More on salt awareness here: http://www.worldactiononsalt.com/salthealth/index.html
For some lower sodium package food alternatives, visit: http://www.lowsodiumfoods.com.au