Most people have now got the message that it's not a good idea to add salt at the table and when cooking, but with 75% of the salt we eat already in the foods we buy, it's essential that we check labels and choose lower salt products.
How much salt do we need?
The Food Standard Agency (FSA) recommends that adults consume no more than 6grams of salt per day and that children consume a quantity appropriate to their age:-
Infants aged 0-6 months < 1g/day. Babies' kidneys can't cope with large amounts of salt - in fact, it's best not to add salt to their food at all.
Infants aged 6-12 months no more than 1g/day
Children aged 1-3 no more than 2g/day
Children aged 4 to 6 no more than 3g/day
Children aged 7 to 10 no more than 5g/day
Children aged 11+ no more than 6g/day
Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, which can triple the risk of heart disease and stroke, and can increase the risk of stomach cancer. Salt intakes are coming down for most people, but to help us all reduce our intakes further, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has set voluntary targets for manufacturers and retailers to meet.
Trying to keep an eye on the salt levels in everything can be overwhelming, so concentrate on a few key foods, such as breakfast cereals, bread, ketchup and pasta sauces. Perhaps surprisingly, these types of food can have the highest levels of salt.
Tips for cutting down on salt
- Because we eat a lot of it, bread contributes a whopping 20% to our salt intakes. Compare labels and choose a loaf that's lower in salt. Supermarket own-label breads are often lower in salt than brands.
- Breakfast cereals are an important part of a healthy, balanced diet but can contain up to one gram of salt per serving. Look for cereals with no added salt -like shredded wheat, Weetabix, no added salt muesli or porridge.
- A single dollop of ketchup can contain a whole gram of salt! Try to limit the amount your kids eat - give them a dollop at the start of their meal and then put the bottle away.
- Pasta is a quick, easy and healthy meal, but not if you use a ready-prepared sauce that's high in salt. Tomato-based sauces are often lower in salt than cheese-based ones, or ones with olives, bacon or ham.
What has Asda done?
Asda met the FSA salt targets two years' ahead of the 2010 deadline and we are continuing to reduce salt wherever possible. Like all our own label products, our bread, breakfast cereals, pasta sauces and ketchup have among the lowest levels of salt on the market.
Click here for more information on the FSA's salt campaign.
if this information is of interest to you why not listen to our podcast on 'salt'? You can simply click on the previous link or visit the podcast section of our website to listen along.