When most people think of the salt they eat, they think of sprinkling it on food, or adding it to cooking, however 75% of the salt that we consume comes from processed foods. So, while it’s important to get out of the habit of adding salt to your food as you cook or eat it, you also need to think about the salt that you can’t see but are probably eating through the food you put into your shopping trolley.
Even if you don’t think you eat much processed food at all, you could be getting salt from unexpected places including bread, breakfast cereals, cheese, soup and sauces.
The best ways to reduce your salt intake are to:
- Eat fresh foods
- Go for low salt when you do buy processed foods, including bread and cereals
- Use herbs and spices or other flavorings rather than salt during cooking or at the table
Eating fresh foods
Eating fresh foods instead of processed ones will help you avoid the hidden salt in a lot of processed foods.
If you’re worried that no salt means no flavour, then use the following table as a guide to flavours you can add to food without salt:
|MSG/chicken salt||lemon juice|
|garlic salt||fresh herbs|
But will it taste as good?
A lot of people who move to a low salt diet discover that they really prefer the wide variety of flavours that salt used to mask in their diet. Even so, some people are sure that food will lose all flavour without salt – they may not realise how quickly our taste buds adjust. After only a few weeks eating less salt, you’ll become more sensitive to the salt in food, so you won’t notice that it’s reduced.
Go for low salt in processed foods
It’s pretty hard to avoid using processed foods when you shop and cook, which is why AWASH is working with the food industry to reduce the level of salt that these foods contain. In the meantime, you should learn to understand the labels on food and always choose the one with the lowest salt content when you shop.
Some other websites keep track of the salt content in many processed foods and can be helpful if you’re struggling to find a low salt version of something you like to eat.