Too much salt can cause all kinds of problems in our bodies. From high blood pressure, to obesity, to cardiovascular disease, to heart attack and stroke, salt increases the risk of many potentially serious health conditions. And according to VicHealth, the majority of us are consuming more than twice the recommended amount.
The trouble is, much of this salt is hidden, so it can be tricky to know how much we’re really consuming.
“Most salt in the Australian diet comes from added salt in processed foods, so people are often unaware of how much they’re eating,” says VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter. “Shoppers need to be aware of hidden salt in the processed foods we eat every day, which are commonly found in most people’s shopping trollies like bread, breakfast cereal, cheese, processed meats and ready-made sauces.”
VicHealth’s top tips for cutting back on salt
1. Eat more fresh vegetables and fruit which are naturally low in salt. (Here are 10 easy ways to eat more veggies.)
2. Cut back on salty packaged or processed foods such as potato chips and other salty snack foods, packet soups and sauces, pies, sausage rolls, sausages, pizzas, and ready-made meals.
3. Check food labels or use the FoodSwitch app to choose lower salt foods. On food labels, look for foods with less than 400mg of sodium per 100g. The best choices are foods with less than 120mg of sodium per 100g.
4. Buy ‘reduced-salt’ breads and breakfast cereals, or check the food label to find the lower salt option.
5. Cut back on processed meats such as bacon, ham, chorizo, and salami.
6. When cooking, limit salty sauces and condiments such as stock, soy and fish sauce, and table salt. Choose lower salt/sodium varieties if available.
7. Use herbs, garlic, and pepper as seasonings as they are naturally low in salt.
8. Take the salt shaker off the table.
9. Eat takeaway meals and foods only occasionally.
10. Follow the Australian Dietary Guidelines. For more information, see eatforhealth.gov.au