Salt: 7 ways to reduce your intake

Table salt may be a staple in most Australian kitchens, but experts warn you are probably eating more than you realise. Here are 7 ways to shake the habit.

Many Australian adults would be surprised to discover they consume almost twice the recommended daily intake of salt.

What are the dangers of too much salt?

High salt intake is a leading dietary risk factor, accounting for more than 3 million deaths worldwide in 2017.

Consuming too much salt is linked with multiple health conditions, such as kidney disease, stomach cancer, osteoporosis, and raising blood pressure which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, including strokes, heart disease, and heart failure.

The George Institute for Global Health executive director Professor Bruce Neal says most people do not realise how bad salt is for them.

“I don’t think people like being told salt is bad for them because we come from a society where it’s normal to have salt on the table, it’s normal to add salt to food, and most people have a palette that is adjusted to a high salt intake,” Prof Neal told House of Wellness TV.

Prof Neal says the sodium in salt progressively pushes up blood pressure, which greatly increases the risk of stroke, heart attack and kidney disease.

Hidden salts in your diet?

Some people may be stunned to learn around 75 per cent of salt in our diet comes from processed food, such as bread.

“People are often surprised in Australia to hear the main source of salt in the diet is actually bread, and that’s not because bread is super salty, but because people tend to eat quite a bit of it,” Prof Neal says.

“Other sources of salt people don’t expect are breakfast cereals.”

You may also be surprised by the salt content in foods such as biscuits, pastries and tinned soup.

What are salt substitutes?

Professor Bruce Neal was involved in an international study of salt intake.

Researchers found replacing salt with a reduced-sodium added-potassium ‘salt substitute’ significantly lowers the risk of stroke, heart disease and death.

Seven tips to help reduce salt in your diet

  1. Eat more fresh vegetables and fruit which are naturally low in salt.
  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.
  4. Cut back on processed meats such as bacon, ham, chorizo, and salami.
  5. When cooking, limit salty sauces and condiments such as stock, soy and table salt. Use alternatives such as lemon juice, garlic, vinegar or herbs and spices.
  6. Retrain your taste buds: our sensitivity to ‘saltiness’ increases when we cut back, so less salt is needed.
  7. Take the salt shaker off the table.

For more expert health advice and practical strategies to improve your lifestyle, tune in to House of Wellness TV, Fridays at 2pm and Sundays at 12pm, on Channel 7.

Written by Bianca Carmona.