Salt in very small amounts is essential for health. However, many adults and children eat too much salt. Too much salt can increase blood pressure levels and in turn increase risk of heart disease or stroke. Most of the salt we eat – about 80% – comes from processed food, fast food, canteen and restaurant food. About 10-15% is added at home in cooking or at the table and only 5% occurs naturally in food.
So, how little salt should you have each day?
Adults should eat less than 6 grams of salt (one teaspoon) per day, children should eat much smaller amounts. School children should eat less than 4 grams of salt (half a teaspoon) per day and younger children should eat as little as possible.
Reduce these high salt foods
- Packet and tinned soups
- Instant noodles
- Ketchup and sauces
- Sausages and burgers
- Salty savoury snacks
Simple ways to cut down on salt
- Gradually reduce the amount of salt you add at the table and during cooking.
- Use alternative flavourings such as black pepper, herbs, spices, garlic and lemon juice.
- Limit the use of stock cubes, gravy granules and ready-made sauces. Try making homemade stock or sauces instead.
- Choose fresh vegetables and lean meat more often than tinned or processed varieties.
- If you do need to use ready meals on occasion, look for reduced salt options.
- Get out of the habit of having instant high – salt foods (listed above) at home. In fact do not even put them in your shopping basket!
Taken from “Your Child’s Heart” magazine published by Irish heart Foundation (www.irishheart.ie) ‘The Irish Heart Foundation is the national charity fighting heart disease and stroke. We support, educate and train people to save lives, campaign for patients, promote positive health programmes, fund research and provide vital information. We need your support through donations, as a volunteer or on our training courses’