How to cut down on salt

It’s best to cut down on salt gradually so that your taste buds have a chance to get used to it. Over about six weeks, your taste buds will adjust and you’ll get used to less salty foods. Then you can start to really enjoy the natural flavours in your food!

Top 3 ways to cut down on the salt

  1. Eat less processed foods and more fresh foods
  2. Use less salt when you cook
  3. Add less salt at the table

Important foods to cut down on are:

  • Cured and processed meats (like ham, rashers, sausages)
  • Battered and breaded meats and fish
  • Packet and tinned soups
  • Instant noodles
  • Ketchups and sauces
  • Salty or savoury snacks (like crisps, salted nuts, jambons)

Simple tips to get the whole family eating less salt!

At home

  • Instead of adding salt during cooking, try other seasoning instead – black pepper, fresh herbs, spices, garlic or lemon juice
  • Keep the salt cellar out of sight!
  • Go easy on stock cubes, gravy granules and ready-made sauces which are all high in salt. Try making your own stock or sauces instead
  • Go for lean cuts of meat and fish more often than processed or battered cuts
  • Reduce your portion sizes – this will help you keep to a healthy weight, and means you’ll probably eat less salt too.
  • Aim to make home-cooked meals the norm. There are some delicious heart healthy recipes on the Irish Heart Foundation, British Heart Foundation websites, as well as in our Low salt recipes section.

When shopping

  • Get out of the habit of having high-salt foods at home - don’t even put them in your shopping basket!
  • When buying pre-packed foods, compare like-for-like and go for the brands that are lower in salt
  • If you do have ready-meals on occasion, go for the reduced-salt options
  • Buy more lean meats (like a lean pork chop, or chicken breast without the skin) and less processed meats (like burgers, sausages or rashers)

Eating out

  • Try a fruit, vegetable or salad-based starter
  • Go for dishes that are already full of natural flavours or spices (like a curry)
  • Always taste your food before you add any seasoning
  • Try adding freshly ground black pepper instead of salt for flavour
  • Choose salty meats like bacon, gammon and ham less often
  • Ask for sauce or dressing to be served on the side – this way you can control how much you use
  • Go for tomato, spicy or fruit-based sauces - these are less likely to have added salt, soya, cream or butter

Adapted from the Irish Heart Foundation leaflet, Cut Down on Salt to Reduce your Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke (PDF, 1MB).