It is socking that most South Africans still don’t understand the danger of consuming too much salt… part of the reason may be that most people still don’t understand what too much salt means or what enough salt means. This article is going to bring all those issues into perspective. First of all salt is composed of sodium and chloride. Sodium is the part of the salt that increases blood pressure when consumed in larger quantities. 5g of salt is the same as 2000mg of sodium. This is the recommended serving of salt for healthy individuals.
Many foods that you already buy have sodium in them and this is what we call hidden salt, often these foods don’t look or taste salty. Examples of food with hidden salts include bread and breakfast cereals, sausages and other processed meats, stock, soup and gravy powders. Too much salt in your diet increases the risk of developing high blood pressure and heart diseases which can develop over many years.
How to reduce salt intake
- Learn how much salt is in food. Look on the ingredient list of the food item and check these words: salt, sodium, brine, MSG, baking soda. If any of these words are in the first three ingredients on the food label it is likely to be high in salt.
- Look for the heart logo mark. Foods with the heart logo sign are the healthier choices and lower in salt than similar products
- Use salty foods less often. Fresh foods have less salt as compared to processed foods.
- This table is helpful in helping you choose foods that are low in salt
|Foods low in salt||Foods with moderate salt||Foods high in salt|
|Foods prepared at home with fresh ingredients, fruits and vegetables, unsalted nuts and seeds, mealie meal, pasta, rice, plain pop corn, oats, fresh fish, fresh chicken and meat, eggs, yoghurt and maas, plain cottage cheese, vinegar or lemon juice, herbs (dried and fresh)||Salted nuts, cake, pastries, biscuits, sauces, salad dressings, mayonnaise, convenience meals, burgers, pies, soft tub margarine||All types of salt, seasoning salt like barbeque or seasoning spice, stock cubes, gravy and soup powders, takeaway foods, pizza and crumbed meat or chicken, crisps, salty spreads, Worcestershire and soy sauce, processed meat (polonies, Vienna’s, salami, ham, sausages and boerewors), bacon, biltong, corned beef, pickled tongue, cheese, butter, hard margarine, instant noodles, olives and pickles|
- Use the simple table below to compare how much sodium is in 100g of different foods
(eat more often)
(avoid or limit)
|Sodium||120mg or less||120g-600g||600mg or more|
Remember to look at per 100g of food and not per serving
Tips to make the food tastier
To make your food tasty try these herbs and unsalted spices instead of salt:
- Lemon juice and vinegar
- Herbs (Italian herb mix, parsley or rosemary)
- Spices like curry powder, paprika and pepper
- Garlic, ginger, chilli and onions
When you and your family use less salt, you are making a decision to live a healthier life. Don’t give up, keep trying every day
Salt watch is brought to you by the Heart and Stroke Foundation Sought Africa