Warning! Salt added

Preventative health has been the top health trend for a number of years now, and it’s all about “prevention is better than cure” – so basically, avoiding getting sick or ill in the first place. Your health is one of the few things in life that you are in control of, and everything you eat and drink, or don’t eat and drink has a direct effect on your body and its ability to continue functioning in top form. When it comes to food, salt is one thing that many people eat too much of, often without even realising it.

Salt is vital, but in really small doses
It’s not that salt is bad for us – go without any salt at all and you’ll soon find out why you need it to stay alive. The problem is having too much salt in our diet. Even if you stop salting food at the table, there is a great deal of it hidden in bread, processed foods, sauces and condiments, and in snacks like chips and nuts.

How much salt is too much salt?
While salt is an essential part of our diet, you only need 0.25g (a quarter teaspoon) a day – and that includes salt that’s already in processed food and convenience meals – before you add any extra at the table.

The worldwide average for salt consumption per day is 9-12g (2 teaspoons), and in South Africa it’s around 6-11g. Either way, it’s far more than what your body needs – and over time this over-consumption of salt can lead to serious health problems, like high blood pressure. Salt Watch recommends a MAXIMUM daily salt consumption of 5g or less – never more than 1 teaspoon.

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How can I reduce the amount of salt I eat?
Become more aware of what you eat and how you eat it. The best way to reduce the amount of salt you eat is to cut down on processed food and convenience meals, and be aware of flavourings you add while cooking and how much salt you sprinkle onto your food before eating. Include more of these healthy, naturally low-salt foods in your daily diet:

  • Fruits and vegetables (frozen, dried and tinned with no added salt are also good)
  • Unsalted nuts and seeds
  • Popcorn (without the salt and butter)
  • Fresh fish, poultry and meat
  • Eggs
  • Yoghurt
  • Plain cottage cheese
  • Vinegar, spices and herbs (dried and fresh) for extra flavour – and use lemon for even more zing

If you do buy prepared foods, get into the habit of reading labels to know what you are eating, and make gradual changes to reduce the need for salt in your meals as this makes it more sustainable.

Salt Watch is a proud partner of Hello Doctor. Take a look here to find out more about Salt Watch.