It is Salt Awareness Week, so what better time to take a step back and assess our daily salt intake. These days, stroke is the third biggest killer in Britain and a high blood pressure increases the risk of a stroke occurring. Regularly consuming too much salt can increase blood pressure, meaning that a high salt intake increases the risk of stroke.
The Government recommends a daily intake of no more than 6g of salt, which is around a teaspoon – not very much is it! 75% of the salt in our diet comes from ready-made food, so what’s the best way to reduce salt intake? Cook from scratch! Soups and sauces are some of the biggest culprits and although they often appear healthy, no doubt they have a lot of salt in them.
We grow accustomed to salt in our foods and develop a taste for it, making it hard to cut down. This year’s salt awareness week focuses on the salt intakes of children, educating people on the dangers of high salt intakes in children. Not only is it bad for their health but introducing salty foods to a child’s diet early on likely means that they will develop a taste for it that they will take into adulthood.
So how can we reduce salt intake? Buy fresh ingredients and cook from scratch, cutting down on packaged and processed foods. Even if you do most often cook from scratch but like to add a good amount of salt to your cooking, try adding spices and herbs to add flavour instead. This seems like really simple, if not useless advice, but if you are serious about reducing salt intake then it only takes around 3 weeks for your tastebuds to adjust to different flavours. Just try it!
What to watch out for…soy sauce, fish sauce, cup-a-soup, stock cubes, cheese, bread, olives, ham, bacon, biscuits, baked beans, tomato ketchup….these all contain quite a large amount of salt so try to limit these in the diet.
Food awareness weeks are all about bringing the diet to the forefront of people’s minds. Most of us consume too much salt, so take this week to consider how we can bring more flavour and variety to our food without the risks that a high salt diet brings.