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.
Tips for reducing salt intake
- Omit salt when you are preparing food and taste before you season
- Learn to enjoy the flavours of unsalted food â you will find that within a few weeks your taste buds will get used to it.
- Try low salt substitutes (various brands available online or from health shops).
- Try flavouring foods with pepper, garlic, herbs, spices and lemon juice instead of salt
- Read food labels carefully to determine the amounts of sodium and learn to recognise ingredients that contain sodium e.g. soy sauce, brine, mono sodium glutamate, baking soda.
- Look for words that can signal high sodium content such as barbecued, broth, marinated, pickled and smoked.
- Cut down on processed foods that contain a lot of salt
Strike a balance - the occasional dip into some salted crisps, olives or smoked salmon isn't going to harm you as the body monitors salt levels and excretes excess in our urine. Use it judicially, cutting it out gradually so you learn to live with less.
Reduced salt alternatives - contain less sodium than standard salt, but they are not sodium free. Because these alternatives taste salty, they don't help you get used to less salty flavours. It's better to gradually reduce the amount of salt you eat until finally you eat hardly any added salt at all. If you are doing high levels of exercise or activity that means you are losing an excessive amount of sodium through perspiration or diuretics you may need to consume more than the minimum 500mg of salt recommended daily. If you are unsure please consult your GP.
Reduced salt alternatives are not suitable for some people so always check with your doctor before using these products.
Try and cook more meals using basic ingredients for example meat, fish, vegetables, pulses and beans instead of eating processed foods or ready meals.
Using herbs and spices to flavour foods will reduce the salt content:
Spice-rubbed haddock fillets on orange & parsley couscous
Moroccan meatball tagine with lemon & olives
Jo Lewin holds a degree in nutritional therapy and works as a community health nutritionist and private consultant. She is an accredited member of BANT and is covered by the association's code of ethics and practice.