On average adults in the UK are having around 9g of salt per day – 3g more than the recommended amount. Statistics show that 85% of men and 69% of women in total eat too much salt each day.
Why too much salt is bad
Too much salt in your body can lead to blood pressure levels rising. Research has shown that people with high blood pressure are three times more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke than people with normal levels of blood pressure.
The majority of people in the UK are still not fully aware of the damage high amounts of salt can have on the body, and many believe that their daily salt intake is low because of how much they add to their food and cooking.
However 75% of salt that enters our body is already contained in the food we buy, with just 25% being accounted from the salt that we add to our meals.
Salt is made up of a chloride and sodium, with the latter being the main cause of bad health.
Sodium levels are normally listed in the nutrition information on food labels, with many products also stating how much salt is contained.
When looking to see if a certain food is high or low in salt, look at the figure for salt per 100g on the nutrition section of the label.
High level = more than 1.5g salt per 100g (or 0.6g sodium)
Low level = 0.3g salt or less per 100g (or 0.1g sodium)
Any amounts that are in between the two levels are classed as a medium level of salt.
How to cut down
The following are some practical tips to help you cut down your salt intake:
- Cut down on salt used for cooking
- Check labels thoroughly, especially those on soups, pasta sauces, sandwiches, and -ready meals.
- Reduce the amount of salty snacks you have, such as crisps and nuts
- Reduce the amount of salty foods you consume, including bacon, pickles, cheese and smoked fish
- Cut down on buying sauces, especially soy sauce, brown sauce, ketchup and mayonnaise
Children and infants
When feeding babies make sure they are only receiving a small amount of salt – less than 1g a day until they reach 6 months of age. Between 6 months to 1 year their daily amount should not exceed 1g.
Extra salt should not be added to any food made for babies as their kidneys will not be able to cope. The same applies for children.
Maximum amounts of salt for children per day are as follows:
- 1 – 3 years = 2g a day (0.8g sodium)
- 4 – 6 years = 3g a day (1.2g sodium)
- 7 – 10 years = 5g a day (2g sodium)
- 11 and above = 6g a day (2.5g sodium)