Too much salt in our diets leads to high blood pressure, increasing the risk of a heart attack, heart failure and stroke. Excess sodium consumption increases the volume of your blood so that it takes up more space in your blood vessels. This expansion of blood vessels is what causes high blood pressure (hypertension).
The recommended maximum amount of salt intake are as follows:
- Adults – 6g per day (about a teaspoon)
- Children aged 1 to 3 years – 2g per day
- Children aged 4 to 6 years – 3g per day
- Children aged 7 to 10 years – 5g per day
So how can we reduce the amount of salt we consume? Here are a few healthy heart tips from Heart Research UK:
Sodium found in salt helps balance fluid in your body. When you eat too much salt, your body needs more fluids to help clear out your system so that your muscles and other organs can operate properly. That’s your body’s way of correcting the sodium-water ratio, and drinking water is the best way to return things back to normal.
Check the Labels
Check the nutrition labels on the foods you buy. You can do this more easily by looking at the traffic light label on the front of the packaging. Try to choose foods which have a green traffic light symbol for the salt tab.
Cooking from Scratch
The best way to know how much salt you’re eating is to cook homemade fresh foods. When cooking something like a Bolognese try not to buy a jar of ready-made sauce as it may be high in salt. Try cooking our own sauce using tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, Italian herbs and vegetables, such as peppers and mushrooms. Try to avoid ready-made meals, takeaways and restaurant food as these tend to have a high salt content and sometimes there’s no way of knowing how much is in each meal.
Creating tasty foods
Instead of adding salt when cooking try experimenting with new flavours such as fresh or dried herbs, garlic and chillies, or acids like lemon juice and vinegar.