It’s National Salt Awareness Week this week, which aims to educate us on our salt intake. We all know too much salt in our diet is bad for us, but do you know why it is bad? Do you know how much salt you should be consuming per day? And, do you know which foods are higher in salt than others?
What’s the deal with salt?
High salt intake over time leads to high blood pressure, which can result in many health conditions such as, heart disease, kidney disease, osteoporosis, and even a stroke, which is the third biggest killer in the UK. A diet that is high in salt does not only affect those who are over weight either, which many people are misled to believe.
It is recommended our intake of salt should be no more than 6g per day, which is approximately one teaspoon of salt. We may well think we can make a pretty good judgement on what foods are higher in salt content than others. However, we have taken a look at your common everyday foods and you may be surprised by what we found out. Many foods have surprisingly large amounts of salt and this hidden ingredient it what makes up a high percentage of our everyday intake, which can be very detrimental to your overall health.
Foods high in salt to avoid
Take a look at the following foods that have high volumes of salt and learn how you can ditch the salt and switch to healthier food choices.
Bread – Most of us consume bread daily and some of us will eat it more than once per day. Bread contains approximately 0.5g of salt per slice, so you can see how quickly your daily intake of salt can increase with just bread alone. Don’t be fooled in thinking wholemeal is healthier in regards to its content either. In some cases, the salt content is actually higher in wholemeal bread than in white bread.
Ham – On average a rasher of bacon actually contains up to 1 gram of salt. A slice of ham is almost as high in salt too. Try to stick to unprocessed meat that’s not smoked or cured for a healthier alternative.
Soup – We all know fresh foods are the healthier option for soup, but even I was surprised when I first found out many years ago that soup is in fact one of the worst food choices for hidden salt content, particular canned soup where large amounts of salt are added to it. It’s the same for tinned vegetables too.
Smoked fish – Fish is great for your omega-3 intake, among other good nutrients and you should aim to eat 2 portions of oily fish a week. However, did you know that your average portion of smoked salmon contains over half your daily allowance of salt? Smoked fish is very high in salt, so try to switch it to fresh fish instead.
Smoothies – I know smoothies are all the rage at the moment and I do love my Nutribullet. However, smoothies can quickly become extremely unhealthy with high levels of sugar, salt and fat if the wrong ingredients are added or they are bought ready-made off the shelf. If you are buying smoothies ready-made in the shops, make sure they do not contain ingredients such as, added sugars, syrups, powders, ice-cream, sherbet, protein powders, chocolate pudding mix, whip cream or cream soda.
Ready meals – We all agree it can be tempting after a long day at work to grab the first convenient thing you find in your kitchen for dinner, such as a ready meal, but these processed foods contain so much more salt, compared to fresh home cooking. Some ready meals can contain up to 7g of salt alone, and that’s just in one meal!
It is difficult to keep on top of food ingredients and it can be confusing looking at the food labelling. Try not to get obsessed with the food labels, but do try to learn the basics of ingredients so you can identify healthy food choices and alternatives. Many ingredients often use different words in their labelling so make sure you know some of these words, for example salt is sometimes referenced under sodium. Foods high in salt tend to have more than 1.5g of salt per 100g (or 0.6g of sodium per 100g). Foods low in salt tends to have less than 0.3g of salt per 100g (or 0.1g of sodium per 100g).
If you are looking to add flavour to your meals don’t reach for the salt and try adding flavour such as, herbs, spices and lemon. You will be pleasantly surprised what flavours you can create and you will switch the salt in no time.
I would be interested in hearing how you are getting on with switching your salt, please do share your food alternatives and recipes below.