Did you know that it’s World Salt Awareness Week Monday 11th – Sunday 17th March? That’s right, starting tomorrow!
World Salt Awareness Week is run by the World Action on Salt and Health (WASH – got to love acronyms). It serves to highlight the importance of reducing salt intake in all populations throughout the world. Why? As there is strong evidence that our current high salt intakes are linked to high blood pressure. High blood pressure increases the risk of stroke and heart disease. Not to mention that a high salt diet is linked to other diseases including some cancers.
The need to reduce salt intake isn’t just something that other countries need to do – it’s an issue of importance for Australians too. Included in the Australian Dietary Guidelines is the guideline to ‘Limit intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol’. Considering that there are only five guidelines, this shows that we need to take action on reducing our intake of added salt.
You can be part of World Salt Awareness Week by trying to reduce your salt intake. You don’t have to completely change your diet (unless you live on salted chips, processed meats and instant noodle pots – in which case, please do change your diet, for more reasons than just reducing salt!). Most likely though, you would simply benefit from opting for lower salt options when choosing foods.
Note: On the nutritional information panels of foods, it is the sodium content that is listed. This is as salt is made up of sodium and chloride, and it is the sodium that affects our blood pressure.
The following points on how you can limit your intake of added salt are deduced from the Australian Dietary Guidelines:
- Fresh, unprocessed or minimally processed foods are generally lower in sodium. These foods include:
- Fresh vegetables (including legumes/beans) and fruit
- Frozen or tinned vegetables (including legumes/beans) and fruit with no added salt
- Fresh meats and fish, and milk
- Read labels to choose lower sodium options among similar foods
- Some foods are labelled ‘low sodium/salt’ if the food contains no more than 120mg of sodium per 100g. However not all foods that meet this criterion carry a ‘low sodium’ claim and therefore it is best to compare brands and choose the option with the lower sodium content on the nutritional information panel
- Some breads, cereal products and cheeses have higher levels of salt. However these foods should not be avoided, rather lower-sodium products in these categories should be selected
- Many Asian-style sauces such as soy, oyster and fish sauces are particularly high in sodium. Lower sodium options of these foods should be chosen whilst recognising that they may still have a high sodium content
- Do not add salt to foods in cooking or at the table
- Herbs, spices, garlic, lemon juice and vinegars can also be used to season foods without adding salt
When you are next planning your meals and grocery shopping, try and put some of the above points into practice and smile, knowing that you’re doing your body a favour 🙂
For further information:
- Contains recipes, further tips on how to reduce salt intake
- The George Institute Facebook page during Salt Awareness Week 11-17 March will be posting practical tips and recipes to reduce your salt intake