Day 24 of our 30-day nutrition challenge is all about salt – how much is too much? Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure (read more in day 10 article) which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
But, we need salt to:
- Maintain fright fluid balance (sodium and potassium)
- Assist in contraction and relaxation of muscles
- Transmission of nerve impulses
If kidneys are struggling to excrete sodium there will be more of it in blood, and as sodium attracts water the volume of blood will increase making the pressure on arteries greater.
Most of the salt we consume is in everyday foods e.g. bread, sauces, cereal etc so we don’t need to add salt when cooking, or on served food. It’s fair to say most people use salt to enhance the flavour of food, however the taste for salt is acquired so we can learn to enjoy less salt. Try the salt test and cut out added salt for 5 days. During the first 3-4 days the food will taste bland, but after that your taste buds start to recover and you will start to taste food more without the salt. It’s just like removing sugar from hot drinks, at first it’s not great but your taste soon adjusts.
NHS advice for adults is less than 6g of salt (2.4g sodium) per day – 6g is the size of a teaspoon. It’s a good idea to check food portion sizes too as although some foods are not high in salt, we may just eat a lot of them.
Some foods are naturally salty, others have salt added as part of the preservation process:
- Soy sauce
- Stock cubes
- Yeast extract
Check the amount of salt on the food label on the back of packets as some foods may not appear to be high in salt:
- Baked beans
Simple low salt swaps
- Fruit/vegetables are naturally high in potassium and low in sodium
- Switch salted or cured meats for unsmoked meats
- Tinned vegetables and pulses without added salt
- Switch crisps for fruit/vegetable with a dip
- Switch cheese sauces with ham to tomato sauces.
- Use black pepper for seasoning instead of salt
- Try garlic, ginger, chilli or herbs to add flavour
- Switch bought sauces for homemade sauces using tomatoes and garlic
To find out other ways to reduce your blood pressure read our article from Day 10.
If you’d like to find out more tips to improve your health, check out our webinars and our Bitesize Nutrition podcasts. If you’re new to podcasts you can listen free without registration on your phone or PC by clicking on the podcast link in this paragraph. Or you can listen to Bitesize Nutrition on iTunes & Spotify.
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- The information in this article is for educational purposes and should not replace medical advice.
- The information is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition.
- If you have a diagnosed medical condition, you should consult a doctor before making any major changes to your diet, and;
- Some supplements may interact with medications and you should check with your GP before commencing any supplement programme.