14th to 20th March 2022 is Salt Awareness Week. It is estimated that in the UK we consume around 8.4g of salt a day which is 40% more than the recommended 6g a day. Too much salt in your diet can have a negative effect on your health and can increase the risk of water retention, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and kidney disease. Here are some tips to help you reduce your salt intake:
- Reduce salt gradually
By gradually reducing the amount of salt in your food, your taste buds will adapt over time. Try tasting your food before you add salt. You may find that your food is tasty enough. You could try experimenting with different flavours to replace added salt, such as herbs, spices, lemons, or limes.
- Check food labels
Around 75% of the food we eat contains hidden salt. Food labels use a traffic light system, which allows us to see if a product contains a low (green), medium (amber), or high (red) amount of salt. Check the labels to see how much salt is in your food before you buy. Different brands of similar products contain varying amounts of salt, so look at the label and choose products that contain less salt. Salt is made up of sodium chloride and sometimes the label will list ‘sodium’ but not ‘salt’. You can work out how much salt is in a product by multiplying every 1g of sodium by 2.5.
- Make a swap
Swap your high salt foods with foods lower in salt. Try snacking on fruit and vegetables, plain rice cakes, unsalted nuts and seeds or lower salt alternatives to your usual snacks. Foods such as processed meats, stock cubes, ready-made sauces and powdered soups can contain high amounts of salt. Try swapping these for lower salt versions or make your own soups, with little or no added salt. You can also reduce the amount of salt in your diet by having smaller portions of foods that are higher in salt.
Adopting these tips can be challenging, but reducing your salt consumption gradually over time can help to reduce your risk of high blood pressure and coronary heart disease.