Health Corner

Salt Awareness Week takes place from 14th to 20th March this year, the aim being to help raise awareness of the damaging effects of too much salt to our health, in particular highlighting ‘hidden salt’ food products. 

How can salt affect our health?

A diet high in salt can cause raised blood pressure, which can increase the risk of heart disease and strokes. High blood pressure often has no symptoms and many people do not know they have high blood pressure. 

There is also a relationship between high salt intake and stomach cancer, osteoporosis and kidney disease

How much salt is recommended?

Adults should eat no more than 6g of salt in one day (around 1 teaspoon):

10% is added to cooking and at the table

15% occurs naturally in food

75% is in processed food/other bought foods.

How to cut down

1 Look at the nutritional label to find out the salt content:

Check the portion recommended. If you consume more than the recommended portion, you will also be taking in the extra salt. 

2 Make better food choices. You might find the app FoodSwitch helpful – by scanning the product’s barcode, it suggests alternative choices if you’re looking for low salt (or low fat/sugar) .

3 Cook with less salt – use herbs, pepper and spices instead. Try to make your own sauces, stocks and gravy. 

High salt foods include processed meats, cheeses, some breakfast cereals, sandwiches, ready meals, anchovies, pickles, soups, crisps, sauces, stocks and gravy. 

Salt in children’s diets

Babies under 1 year should have less than 1g of salt a day as their kidneys can’t yet process it appropriately. Babies should not have food made with stock cubes or gravy, nor should they have salt added to food. Avoid salty foods such as bacon, crisps, sausages and some ready meals.

A guide for daily salt intake:

1-3 years : max 2g 

4-6 years : max 3g 

7-10 years : max 5g 

11 years and above: max 6g.

References:

http://www.worldactiononsalt.com

http://www.actiononsalt.org.uk (lots of resources and leaflets, as well as the link for the FoodSwitch app.)


Dr. Yuheng Zhou

Teddington Resident &

Paediatric Consultant

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