Britons are being urged to ‘put away the salt shaker’ and get creative in the kitchen to give their heart a healthy boost. Eating too much salt may raise your blood pressure, and having high blood pressure increases your risk of developing heart disease, kidney disease and dementia.
The British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) recent research has found that too many people wrongly believe salt can be a part of heart-healthy eating and is calling on people to ‘shake it off’.
How much is too much?
Adults should consume less than 6 grams of salt each day: that’s about one teaspoon. We are currently eating about 8g of salt every day. This includes the salt that’s contained within ready-made foods like bread, as well as the salt you add during cooking and at the table.
Children should eat less salt than adults, according to their age. Babies should have no added salt.
|Age||Max. salt per day||Max. sodium per day|
|11 and older||6g||2.5g|
How to reduce your salt intake
The pandemic has changed our lives in many ways, including how we eat. Restrictions put in place have meant that rather than socialising and eating in restaurants, cafes and outdoor markets, we are now spending more time at home. This, for many has meant more time cooking at home and recreating much loved dishes. During these unprecedented times, this is an ideal opportunity to get adventurous in the kitchen with new recipes and flavours.
Traditionally people have reached for salt to add flavour to home-cooked meals, but there are so many other ways to ensure your food packs a punch! Below are some tips on how reduce your salt intake without compromising on flavour:
- Always check the nutritional information on food labels and try to pick low-salt options and ingredients.
- Cut down on salty snacks such as crisps, pretzels, Bombay mix, salted nuts and even crackers.
- Avoid or reduce your intake of saltier foods such as bacon, anchovies, processed cheese, feta and halloumi cheeses, takeaways, ready meals and other processed foods. Smoked fish and ingredients such as bicarbonate of soda and baking powder contribute to sodium intake.
- Substitute chilli, citrus, fresh herbs, garlic, black pepper and spices in place of salt.
- Cut back on sauces such as soy sauce, ketchup and salad dressings which can contain lots of hidden salt. Go for the low-salt options (amber and green colours on food packages).
- Buy canned vegetables and fish in water not in brine.
- 43% of ‘healthier snacks’ have been found, in one study, to be loaded with salt, but still all of them had a nutrition and health claim on the package, which was confusing and misleading to the general public. (Source: Action on salt and sugar).
- Be aware that some sodas and colas include salt.
- Use lower salt-stocks, or make your own stock.
- And remember – ALL salt is salt (even sea, rock and pink), but there are low-sodium alternatives for those who need a little more time to adjust to a less salty taste.
- However, if you have a kidney disorder or are on certain blood pressure tablets (ACE inhibitors or ACE2 receptor blockers) you should not take ‘lo-salt’ as it is high in potassium and could put you at risk of an arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).
Authors Dr Jackie Rose, an experienced GP who specialises in nutrition, and Eva Lasry, Nutritionist, head up the Nutrition Clinic at Private GP Extra. The service offers sound evidence-based medical and nutritional advice to help people achieve optimum health and wellbeing without using medication. Find out more here https://www.privategpextra.com/nutrition-private-gp-extra/