Salt still rocks our world. A recent global analysis of cooking sauces found that some had up to ninety times more salt than what is advised. The World Health Organisation estimates that we consume double the amount of recommended salt in our diet and our health has been shaken as a result. Here are my tips on reducing your salt intake without insalting your taste buds.
Sodium chloride is another term for salt. It plays a vital role in our body by maintaining our cells; transporting water and transmitting messages from the brain. When we have too much salt our bodies suffer from water retention; high blood pressure and we risk heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.
Salt has been used to preserve and flavour our food for centuries. These days it comes in many forms from Pink Himalayan to fancy rock salt. It doesn’t matter whether you’re having good old table salt or whether yours comes from underground like rock salt or evaporated sea water which makes sea salt. The sodium is the same and pink Himalayan salt actually hails from Pakistan.
Adults should aim to consume no more than a teaspoon or four grams of salt per day in order to prevent chronic disease. That’s not very much particularly when three quarters of the salt we consume is hidden in processed foods. A fresh pasta sauce from the supermarket contains almost a third of our daily salt intake. Add parmesan and this will take you off the salt charts.
The largest contributors of salt to our diet are cooking sauces; breads; cereals and processed meats. Stock is also a big contributor as are cheese and canned vegetables. Some of the biggest offenders were recently shown to be powder based sauces by McCormick and stir fry sauces by Pandaroo and Ayam.
To work out how much salt you eat per day check your food labels. Use the 100g column to compare the sodium of different brands. Aim for 400mg of sodium per 100g. Remember, that one gram of sodium translates to 2.5 grams of salt. Look for food that has no added salt; reduced salt or low salt on the label.
Preference for salty foods is developed through exposure. It’s possible to lower your taste for salt gradually over time. Try leaving your salt shaker off the table and season your meals with lemon, ginger, garlic or herbs and spices. Use left-over meat or poultry sandwich fillings instead of ham, salami or bacon.
Avoid ready-made and powdered soups and smoked products such as anchovies and meats. Use small amounts even when they’re salt reduced of tomato, soy, mayonnaise, pickles and gravy. Only eat salted snack foods such as nuts, biscuits and popcorn occasionally. The best way to reduce your salt intake is to make your food from scratch so you know what is going in it.
Reducing your salt intake may at first seem a little bland but your taste receptors will soon adjust. Eat more fresh foods to reduce your reliance on packaged and processed foods. Shake up the sodium in your diet and you’ll become a low salt of the earth person before you know it.