Salt is needed in our diet to help regulate certain bodily functions. However, in the UK we consume too much! The British government recommends we only consume 6 grams per day as studies have shown that a high salt diet can lead to high blood pressure, which in turn can cause strokes and heart attacks.
Why is salt consumption so high?
While we are all very aware about not cooking with salt or adding it to our food, most of us might not realise the high levels of salt in pre-made food products. Research suggests that 75% of our salt intake comes from everyday food such as bread, ready meals, and even breakfast cereal. Food manufacturers are continuing to make active efforts to reduce the salt in their foods, and over the last 10 years we’ve seen products reformulated to contain 20-40% less salt.
Here are 5 foods surprisingly high in salt:
Sauces: This includes from soy sauce to less obvious pasta sauces and ketchup. However most brands will have a low sodium version so keep your eyes open for them.
Bread: Breads often include salt as a preservative, but they can also have salt crusts which add excess salt to the diet.
Cheese: Butter can have added salt and so this will go into cheese making. Cheese contains both salt and saturated fat, two nutrients to avoid in large quantities.
Capers, anchovies and olives: These tasty nibbles are often added to dishes for flavour, but make sure you don’t add too much to avoid increasing the salt content.
Sweet treats: Often sweet treats like cakes are thought only to be high in sugar, but shop bought cakes can be high in salt too. And with new trends such as salted caramel, you can increase your salt content without even realising.
What is happening to reduce the UK’s salt intake?
In 2003 the UK government introduced a recommended salt intake of no more than 6 grams per day. At this time the average person consumed around 9.5g. Through government campaigns and the food industry reformulating products, the nations average salt consumption has now dropped to 8.1g per day. However this is still 2.1g above the recommended limit, so more work is needed!
To help make things easier for us as consumers, the UK Government has released a ‘traffic light’ system for Low, Medium and High Salt products, similar to the ones we see for Sugar and Fat.
- Low Salt: less than 0.3g / 100g
- Medium Salt: 0.3g – 1.5g / 100g
- High Salt: more than 1.5g / 100g
Salt Awareness Week 2018
Salt Awareness Week 2018 runs from Monday 12th – Sunday 18th March 2018. This year the focus is on families, with a call for more action from the food industry and out of home sector.
Consensus Action on Salt & Health (CASH) is calling on both food providers and the public to work to help improve the population’s diet. They’re calling on food manufacturers to reduce the amount of salt they add and to provide low-salt choices, and encouraging the public to make simple changes to their eating and purchasing habits. These changes can save many more lives and millions of pounds in health care costs.
Spoon Guru will also be attending the CASH Parliamentary Reception at the House of Commons to discuss the future of salt reduction in the UK, with attendees from the Department of Health, NGOs, and the food industry.
For more information on salt and how to cut down, check out these great resources:
Also look for the Low Salt filter on the Spoon Guru app. As it filters for Low Salt, only products which have less than 0.3g per 100g of salt will be allowed.
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