Reduce Salt In Your Diet- Top Tips And Advice


How much is too much salt? 

The recommended maximum of salt intake is that Adults should eat no more than 6g of salt per day which is equal to 2.4g of sodium which is around 1 teaspoon. Read More About Salt Guidelines NHS Choices Excess salt in the body can be harmful to your health and can cause various health complications such as high blood pressure, obesity, and increases risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke. That is why it is important to limit your salt intake. 


What health complications can eating too much salt cause?

• High Blood Pressure 

Damages Kidneys

Weakens bones 

Obesity 

Clogged Arteries

Stroke

Heart Attack

Damages Brain


How does eating too much salt affect your body? 

The amount of salt you eat has a direct effect on your blood pressure. Salt makes your body hold on to water. If you eat too much salt, the extra water stored in your body raises your blood pressure. So, the more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure. The higher your blood pressure, the greater the strain on your heart, arteries, kidneys and brain. This can lead to heart attacks, strokes, dementia and kidney disease. 

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Kidneys- how does eating too much salt affect our kidneys? 

Your body removes unwanted fluid by filtering your blood through your kidneys. Here any extra fluid is sucked out and put into your bladder to be removed as urine. To do this, your kidneys use osmosis to draw the extra water out of your blood. This process uses a delicate balance of sodium and potassium to pull the water across a wall of cells from the bloodstream into a collecting channel that leads to the bladder. Eating salt raises the amount of sodium in your bloodstream and wrecks the delicate balance, reducing the ability of your kidneys to remove the water. The result is a higher blood pressure due to the extra fluid and extra strain on the delicate blood vessels leading to the kidneys. Over time, this extra strain can damage the kidneys - known as kidney disease. This reduces their ability to filter out unwanted and toxic waste products, which then start to build up in the body.


Arteries- how does eating too much salt affect our arteries?

The extra blood pressure caused by eating too much salt puts extra strain on the insides of your arteries. To cope with the extra strain, the tiny muscles in the artery walls become stronger and thicker. Yet this only makes the space inside the arteries smaller and raises your blood pressure even higher. This cycle of increasing blood pressure (which occurs slowly over a number of years) can ultimately lead to the arteries bursting or becoming so narrow that they then clog up entirely. When this happens, the organs of the body that were receiving the blood from the arteries become starved of the oxygen and nutrients they need. This can result in the organs being damaged and can be fatal.


Heart- how does eating too much salt affect our heart? 

The raised blood pressure caused by eating too much salt may damage the arteries leading to the heart. At first, it may cause a slight reduction in the amount of blood reaching the heart. This may lead to angina (sharp pains in the chest when being active). With this condition the cells in the heart don't work as well as they should because they are not receiving enough oxygen and nutrients. If you continue to eat too much salt then, over time, the damage caused by the extra blood pressure may become so severe that the arteries burst or become completely clogged. If this happens, then the part of the heart that was receiving the blood no longer gets the oxygen and nutrients it needs and dies. The result is a heart attack.


Brain- how does eating too much salt affect our brain?

The raised blood pressure caused by eating too much salt may damage the arteries leading to the brain. At first, it may cause a slight reduction in the amount of blood reaching the brain. This may lead to dementia (known as vascular dementia). With this condition the cells in the brain don't work as well as they should because they are not receiving enough oxygen and nutrients. 


How can you cut down on your salt intake?

You don't have to add salt to your food to eat too much of it – around 75% of the salt we eat is already in everyday foods such as bread, breakfast cereal and ready meals. Remember, whether you're eating at home, cooking or eating out, don't add salt to your food automatically – taste it first. Many people add salt out of habit, but it's often unnecessary and your food will taste good without it. Read NHS Choices Useful Information to find out more about cutting down on salt


Top Tips For Reducing Salt In Your Diet:

• Use fresh, rather than packaged, meats. Fresh cuts of beef, chicken or pork contain natural sodium, but the content is still much less than the hidden extra sodium added during processing in products like bacon or ham. If a food item keeps well in the fridge for days or weeks, that's a tip off that the sodium content is too high.

• Choose fresh fruit and vegetables, as well, since they are very low in sodium. Canned and frozen fruits are also low in sodium.

• When buying frozen vegetables, choose those that are labelled "fresh frozen" and do not contain added seasoning or sauces.

• Begin reading food labels as a matter of course. Sodium content is always listed on the label. Sometimes the high sugar content in a product like apple pie can mask the high sodium content so it's important to check every label for sodium content.

• Compare various brands of the same food item until you find the one that has the lowest sodium content, since this will vary from brand to brand.

• Select spices or seasonings that do not list sodium on their labels i.e. choose garlic powder over garlic salt.

• Before dining out, do your research. Visit the restaurant's website which should list the sodium content of various dishes served there. Alternatively, when you're at the restaurant and ready to order, you can request that the dish be served without salt.

• Beware of products that don't taste especially salty but still have high sodium content, such as cottage cheese.

• If you have elevated blood pressure, dietary sodium restriction can not only lower your blood pressure, but can enhance your response to blood pressure medications.

• Salt preference is an acquired taste that can be unlearned. It takes about 6-8 weeks to get used to eating food with much lower quantities of salt, but once it's done, it's actually difficult to eat foods like potato chips because they taste way too salty.


What foods should I eat to reduce my salt intake?

Most people eat much more sodium (salt) than they need. This can lead to health problems like high blood pressure. To lower the amount of sodium in your diet, follow these tips when you go food shopping:

• Choose fresh instead of processed foods when you can.

• Use the Nutrition Facts label to check the amount of sodium. Compare labels to find products with less sodium.

• Look for foods labeled “low sodium” or “no salt added.”

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Vegetables and Fruits

Buy plenty of vegetables and fruits.

  • Any fresh fruits, like apples, oranges, or bananas
  • Any fresh vegetables, like spinach, carrots, or broccoli
  • Frozen vegetables without added butter or sauce
  • Canned vegetables that are low in sodium or have no salt added (rinse canned vegetables to remove some of the sodium)
  • Low sodium vegetable juice
  • Frozen, canned, or dried fruit with no added sugars


Breads, Cereals, and Other Grains

Compare labels to find products with less sodium. Look for foods with 5% Daily Value (DV) or less for sodium. A DV of 20% or more is high. When you cook grains, don’t add salt.

  • Whole grains such as brown or wild rice, quinoa, or barley
  • Whole-wheat or whole-grain pasta and couscous
  • Whole-grain hot or cold breakfast cereals with no added sugar, like oatmeal or shredded wheat
  • Unsalted popcorn or low-sodium chips and pretzels
  • Whole-grain bread, bagels, English muffins, tortillas, and crackers – many types are high sodium, so be sure to check the label

Tip: If your food comes with a seasoning packet, use only part of the packet. This will lower the amount of sodium in the food.


Protein Foods

Choose fresh or frozen seafood, poultry, and meats instead of processed options. Some meat, poultry, and seafood has added sodium. If the package has a Nutrition Facts label, look for 5% DV or less.

  • Fresh or frozen fish or shellfish
  • Chicken or turkey breast without skin or marinade
  • Lean cuts of beef or pork
  • Unsalted nuts and seeds
  • Beans and peas like kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), split peas, and lentils
  • Canned beans labeled “no salt added” or “low sodium” (rinse canned beans to remove some of the sodium)
  • Eggs


Dairy

Be sure to check the label on cheese, which can be high in sodium. Choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products.

  • Fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk
  • Fat-free or low-fat plain yogurt
  • Low-sodium or reduced-sodium cheese (like natural Swiss cheese)
  • Soymilk with added calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D


Dressings, Oils, and Condiments

When you cook, use ingredients that are low in sodium or have no sodium at all.

  • Unsalted margarine and spreads (soft, tub, or liquid) with no trans fats and less saturated fats
  • Vegetable oils (canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, or sunflower)
  • Low-sodium salad dressing – or oil and vinegar
  • Low-sodium or "no salt added" ketchup
  • Low-sodium salsa or picante sauce


Seasonings

Try these seasonings instead of salt to flavour your food.

  • Herbs, spices, or salt-free seasoning blends
  • Chopped vegetables, like garlic, onions, and peppers
  • Lemon and lime juice
  • Ginger