We seem to be in the midst of a war against sugar, with so many dietitians, writers, celebrities and politicians joining the fight.
But what about salt? Is it still bad for us? Even if it’s fancy now? And are they all the same? (think Himalayan pink salt, flavoured salt, truffled salt, herbed salt, all in addition to our regular table salt).
The answer is yes.
Amy Ekin, one of St John of God Murdoch Hospital’s Dietitians, says salt is salt and too much is not good for us, despite its form or colour.
“Salt is essential for our body function, however too much salt can increase blood pressure which in turn puts your heart at risk,” Ms Ekin says.
“Excess salt in the diet can also cause fluid retention, osteoporosis and kidney stones.”
Salt is found naturally in almost every food. You can easily get your daily requirement from the natural salts found in fresh foods without having to add it to your meals.
Over 75 per cent of the salt we eat comes from processed foods. It is used as a preservative in packaged goods such as tinned, frozen and dried goods and is present in breads, cheese, takeaway foods and processed meats.
“When selecting packaged goods always check the food label,” Ms Ekin advises.
“Select foods with less than 120mg per serve and avoid products containing more than 400g per 100g serve.”
The recommended average daily intake of salt is less than 6 grams (2300 milligrams sodium). But, the average Australian has about 9 grams of salt (3450 milligrams of sodium) every day. ¹
It can be difficult to reduce your salt intake, so do it gradually and your tastebuds will adjust to a lower salt diet within four to six weeks.
“Try adding lemon, fresh or dried herbs and spices, which have their own health benefits, to flavour your meals without salt,” Ms Ekin suggests.
“Focussing on a diet with plenty of fresh foods such as fruit, vegetables, lean meat and low fat dairy and less packaged goods will help reduce your salt intake.”
¹ Australian Division of World Action on Salt and Health, 2010 (retrieved June 2012)