To celebrate salt awareness week (4th – 11th March) we are going to talk about salt, as well as some healthy swaps we can do to reduce the amount in our diets.

First, it’s important to understand why we need to be aware of our intake. Salt, or sodium, is an essential nutrient for several bodily functions, including:

  • Helping maintain water and mineral balance.
  • Help our nerves work properly- sending messages from the brain to the rest of our body.
  • For our muscles to contract and relax.

Salt is a flavour enhancer but as much as we love the taste, it is important to be aware of our intake.

UK Recommendation:

6g a day (approx. one teaspoon).

However, on average we are consuming 8.2g daily- 1/3 more than the recommendation.

Health risks linked to consuming too much salt:

  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Increased risk of kidney disease
  • Increased risk of dehydration.
  • Can encourage water retention and bloating.

Unfortunately, a lot of salt in our meals is hidden, research has found that up to 75% of our intake comes from pre-prepped food items we purchase, such as pasta sauces, soups, ready meals, processed meats and snacks.

See the below tips on how to reduce your salt consumption without sacrificing flavour:

  • One easy way is to choose fresh, whole foods, over processed options. Processed foods often contain high amounts of added salt for example in premade pasta sauces, cured and processed meats, and ready meals. Therefore, embrace your inner chef and choose to cook from scratch by using whole foods like wholegrains, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Concerned about the amount in meals when eating out at a restaurant? Do not worry, simply ask for your meal to be prepared without any added salt.
  • One of my favourite things to reduce my intake is to be a bit more creative in the kitchen and use a variety of different ingredients to add flavour to meals such as delicious spices, fresh herbs, citrus fruits such as their juice or zest and different kinds of vinegar are all great options. It’s a simple and easy way to reduce your intake and still enjoy delicious meals.
  • Don’t forget to check the nutrition labels on the foods you buy and choose options that are lower in salt. For example. looking for condiments that are lower, such as low-sodium soy sauce or salsa or even lower salt stock cubes or gels.

Monthly challenge:

In addition to these tips, if you are a massive salt lover try this month’s challenge…. Start by looking at your current salt intake and reduce it slowly. It may take some getting use to whilst your tastebuds adjust, but this can take approx. 6-8 weeks, but who knows by the end you might not even miss it and find it difficult to consume saltier foods and meals.  This can be done by doing simple things such as removing salt from the dining table, tasting your food before adding salt, and making simple swaps from crisps to vegetable sticks and houmous or yoghurt.

You can hear Charlottes podcast about salt here 

Further reading recommendations:

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