How to cut back on salt

Research, reported in the Guardian last week, has confirmed the impact that salt can have on our health. 

The study, which had 500,000 participants, showed that adding salt to their food at the table (rather than just when cooking) was linked to earlier death. Although there may have been other factors involved, the research found that adding salt to meals knocked 2 years off life expectancy for men and 1 and a half years for women.

On average we consume 8.1 g of salt per day in the UK, however it is recommended that we have no more than 6 g per day. This means we are having around a third more salt than is advised. Regularly eating too much salt can increase our risk of high blood pressure which is a major cause of strokes, heart attacks and heart failure.

The most common source of salt in our diet comes from processed foods such as ready meals, sauces and soups as well as bread and cereals. As it is hidden in lots of food it is hard to take it out of our diet. What we can do, though, is read food labels and use apps such as the Food Switch app to help us find foods which are less salty.

Action on Salt gives us some tips on how we can cut back on how much salt we eat.  One thing to remember is that we get used to a certain amount of salt in our diet so cutting back suddenly can make food appear to taste bland. If we substitute salt for herbs, spices, black pepper, chilli and lemon then we will be adding flavour to our foods in different ways which will help us miss salt less. It takes about 3 weeks for our taste buds to adapt so bear this in mind when you cut back on salt. After this you will be able to notice the flavour of food with less salt added.

The NHS suggests we taste food before we add salt as adding salt can become a habit. 

Other tips for reducing salt include:

  • Reducing how much cured meat and fish you eat as these are high in salt,

  • Buy tinned vegetables and pulses that don’t have added salt,

  • Choose lower salt ready made sauces and other foods. Compare food labels to find out the best choice,

  • Swap crisps and crackers for lower salt snacks,

  • Go easy on table sauces as they are high in salt.

What will be your first swap?

 

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