We're all consuming too much salt if recent news reports are anything to go by and, while we do need a certain amount of sodium chloride in our diet, ingesting too much can have adverse effects.
World Salt Awareness Week (16th - 22nd March) aims to gt us thinking about limiting salt in our diets in order to prevent poor health, especially later on in life.
Some of the effects of consuming excess salt include water retention, dehydration and high blood pressure. All of these factors can affect your overall health and may increase the risk of osteoporosis, stomach cancers and kidney stones amongst other ailments. High blood pressure can also increase the possibility of heart attack and stroke.
Avoiding salt is easier said than done, however. Supermarket foods are often overloaded with salt and sugar to make them more palatable, and not everyone has the time to shop around for low salt alternatives.Here are a few tips to help you to reduce your overall salt consumption on a daily basis.
It can be easy to miss the amount of sodium in canned foods but reading food labels gives a good indication of how much salt we are actually consuming. As a general guide, we should aim to consume no more than 6g of salt per day. Eating canned soups or processed foods can easily provide this in one serving, and for this reason, they are worth avoiding.
Many food manufacturers use salt as an additive to enhance the flavor of their products. Plenty of soups, sauces and other packaged foods contain high levels of 'hidden' salt. Choosing to make your food from scratch means you can determine all of the ingredients that go into your meals. Create your own sauce using freshly chopped tomatoes, rather than buying a store version, or make your own soup using fresh vegetables and stock.
It may be tempting to indulge in crisps, salted nuts, chips and dips but these foods are best kept for the weekend rather than eaten as an everyday snack. Graze on fresh fruit, veggies, unsalted nuts, seeds or dried fruits instead to get a much needed energy boost.
Bread is notorious for being high in sodium and many breakfast cereals have salt and sugar added to them for improved taste. While the average salt content of many foods has come down since 2001, following pressure from health experts, further reductions need to be made. You can monitor your salt intake by choosing to switch to a reduced-salt version, making your own bread or cutting it out altogether and switching to rice or oat cakes instead.
Pre-packaged foods contain excess sodium, added sugars and fat to enhance their flavour. Average salt levels in ready meals are unnecessarily high, according to researchers. If you want to reduce your salt levels, it's best to avoid these types of foods. If you want a meal you can eat as soon as you get home, invest in a slow cooker and make tasty, fresh, wholesome meals that can coo kall day and be ready when you are.