Cut down on salt

Date: December, 2012

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We all know that too much salt is bad for our hearts. But what can you do to cut down? Between 65% and 70% of the salt we eat comes from processed food, fast food, and canteen and restaurant food – so as well as reducing the amount of salt that you add to food, it’s especially important to cut down on the amount of salt you get from processed food. Getting to know your way around nutrition labels will go a long way to help you do this.

Look at the food label

Food labels can be confusing at the best of times and even more so when it comes to salt. This is because they usually list the amount of sodium, not salt.

sodium on a food labelMultiply the amount of sodium by 2.5

To work out how much salt is in a food, multiply the sodium figure by 2.5. For example, if a food has one gram of sodium per 100g – that means it has 2.5 grams of salt per 100g.
Remember, Salt = Sodium x 2.5

Eat no more than 6 grams of salt each day

A small amount of salt – about 4 grams a day – is essential for health. At most, you should eat 6 grams, or 1 teaspoon. This includes salt from processed food as well as salt you add yourself.

Compare food labels

Always compare food labels for salt or sodium content and choose the lowest salt option.

Choose foods low in salt when possible

Use the following measures as a guide to foods high and low in salt.

High in salt Low in salt
0.5 grams sodium or more 0.1 grams sodium or less
1.5 grams salt or more 0.5 grams salt or less

Between 0.5g and 1.5g salt (or between 0.1g and 0.5g sodium) per 100g, is a moderate amount. Choose foods that are lower in salt, when you can. Or even better, choose foods that say ‘no added salt’.

Not all labels list the amount of salt

Unfortunately not all food labels list the amount of sodium or salt. You may see sodium or salt listed in the ingredients, which just tells you that salt is present in the food. New European laws on food labeling will standardise information on food labels in the future.