A low salt diet and healthy eating -
low sodium foods
The amount of salt - sodium chloride - that we eat has a direct effect on our health and blood pressure. The more salt we eat the higher our blood pressure. This is true, not only in people with
high blood pressure, but also in people with normal blood pressure. A high
sodium salt intake also causes other health damage, such as greater retention of water in your body, which leads to swelling of the ankles and weight gain. Too much salt also worsens thinning of the bones (osteoporosis), asthma and kidney disease and is closely related to cancer of the stomach. Therefore, everyone should cut the amount of salt they eat to improve their health.
The Food Standards Agency issued salt intake targets for adults and children in 2003. The advice is based on a report by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN). The target for adults is to cut their salt intake from the current amount of 10-12 grams per day (two teaspoonfuls) to 5-6 grams a day (1 teaspoonful) or less. Salt intakes for children depend upon their age, but are considerably less than for adults. If you can reduce your salt intake more this will lower your blood pressure further.
The main source of salt in the UK diet is salt
added in food processing and manufacture. This accounts for around 80% of
our salt intake and is hidden in foods, e.g. bread, some cereals, meat
products and ready prepared meals Many people in the UK have reduced or
stopped adding salt at the table and in cooking, but are unaware of the
very large amounts of salt in processed food, many of which have a salt
concentration approaching or equal to that of sea water.
How can I reduce the amount of salt I eat?
The salt - sodium chloride - that you put in your own cooking or add at the table is obvious, but only a fraction of our salt intake comes from salt that we add. The rest comes from salt hidden in food, ie processed, restaurant, canteen food, etc. Most people are completely unaware that these foods contains so much, for example, bread is the biggest source of salt in the UK diet, and makes up one-quarter of our intake. You can either cut down or cut out processed foods or read the label on processed foods and only eat those that do not contain large amounts of added salt.
see the impact on lowering your blood pressure by reducing salt in your
diet many people find encouragement in regularly measuring their own blood pressure with automatic digital home monitors - follow this link for much more information about
recommended accurate machines.
Your taste buds get used to the large amount of salt in processed foods. When you stop, food with less salt will taste bland. However, your taste buds adapt very quickly so that after about three weeks you will find that food with much less salt in has a strong salty taste and foods with a lot of added salt taste very unpleasant.
Ways to cut down the amount of salt you eat:
>Do not add salt to your food at the table
Sea salt, rock salt and garlic salt are almost identical to salt and should not be used. Most sauces used at the table are also very high in salt, eg, tomato
ketchup & soy sauce.
Do not add salt to cooking
This includes not adding salt
to the water you use for vegetables, pasta and rice etc, and avoiding
stock cubes, gravy browning, soy sauce and salted dried fish,
all of which are very high in salt.
Instead of salt try other flavourings and use fresh foods
Any fresh, frozen or dried herbs
Lemon and lime juice
Red or white wine,
Cider or beer Onions,
garlic, shallots, ginger, chilies, etc
Avoid manufactured or processed foods that have salt added
This is the most difficult to do as there is a large amount of salt in processed or packaged foods and it is difficult to know from the food labels how much has been added. For example, the main source of salt in our diet in the United Kingdom comes from bread and some breakfast cereals.
Read the salt label on food
Salt is sodium and chloride. At the moment most food labels only state the amount of sodium in the food. This is shown as fractions of a gram of sodium per 100 grams of food.
You need to multiply the sodium concentration by 2.5 in order to convert it to salt,
ie, sodium and chloride.
In other words, 1 gram of sodium = 2.5 grams of salt.
A simple guideline is avoid foods that contain more than 0.2 grams of sodium per 100 grams of food and choose foods that contain less than 0.1 grams of sodium per 100 grams.
The aim is to get your salt intake to less than 5 to 6 grams a day (or lower if possible), which is the same as 2 grams of sodium (one teaspoonful).
Cutting down on salt is well worth it. The lower your salt intake, the better your health and the lower your blood pressure is likely to be and, once you are used to it, the food that you eat tastes fantastic, with real natural
Keep off the salt - reduce the sodium in your diet!
How can I reduce my salt intake and lower my blood pressure?
Many books about healthy, low salt diets can
be found at extremely good prices at Amazon the online discount store.
Currently they offer 20% discount on The
No-salt Cookbook: Reduce or Eliminate Salt Without Sacrificing Flavour
Amazon.com for US The No-Salt Cookbook: Reduce or Eliminate Salt Without Sacrificing Flavor
For those looking to help themselves
there is the interestingly titled 25
Ways to naturally lower your blood pressure full price is £10.99
but can be snapped up for £6.35 online at Amazon.co.uk
If you find better prices or experience
any difficulty with the link to Amazon please contact
More pages about diet,
pressure, and measuring it at
home from David Gregory
Action on Salt and Health aims to combat the problems of salt and
I am involved voluntarily with the maintenance of their web site