Spotlight on... low-salt
Moderation is key when it comes to salt consumption. Nutritionist Jo Lewin discusses recommended daily allowances, foods to avoid and the health implications of a low-salt diet.
Salt is one of the simplest, most important ingredients on the planet. However, with the increase in consumption of processed foods, excessive salt consumption has become a risk to our health. The ability of the simple white crystals to preserve food founded civilisations and continues to be integral in the kitchen - simply imagine a world without pickles!
Fascinating facts -
It is believed Roman soldiers were paid with salt; the word salary derives from the Latin salarium possibly referring to the money given to soldiers so they could buy salt.
The term 'salt of the earth' refers to those with 'great worth and reliability'.
Salt and blood pressure...
Salt is made up of sodium chloride. Too much sodium can be harmful to our health and should only be eaten in small amounts. Salt contributes to high blood pressure. Having high blood pressure increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease or having a heart attack. It is the sodium in salt that contributes to high blood pressure by disrupting the balance of electrolytes (potassium, sodium, chloride and magnesium) in the body. Most people eat far more salt than they need.
It is recommended that adults have no more than 6g of salt a day or 2.4g of sodium. That's about one teaspoonful. There is sodium in all types of salt whether it is salt in grains, crystals or flakes. Approximately three-quarters of the salt we eat is 'hidden' in packaged/processed foods.
Check the food labels on items that you regularly buy. Always look on the per 100g column. Most food labels show the amount of sodium rather than salt. To convert the figure from sodium to salt, you need to multiply it by 2.5 - e.g. 2 grams of sodium = 5g of salt (2 x 2.5)
Cardiovascular disease includes coronary heart disease (angina and heart attack) and stroke. It is the most common cause of death in the UK. People with high blood pressure - known as hypertension - have a higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke. The only way of knowing if you have high blood pressure is to have it measured by your doctor. The target for a healthy adult is to have a blood pressure below 140/85mmHg.
If you are experiencing symptoms of headaches, breathlessness, nose bleeds or problems with sight it is advised you go to your GP to check your blood pressure. For more information visit www.bhf.org.uk
If you have high blood pressure, it is essential to try and control it. Even reducing your blood pressure by a small amount can lower your risk. You can do the following things:
- Do more physical activity
- Keep to a healthy weight
- Cut down on salt
- Cut down on alcohol
- Eat more fruit and vegetables