How to eat less salt

According to Blood Pressure UK, eating too much salt is the biggest cause of high blood pressure – the more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure will be. And even if your diet is a healthy one, if it contains too much salt you’re still likely to have high blood pressure, suggests a study recently published in the journal Hypertension.

It was previously believed that eating high amounts of fruit and vegetables might help counteract the effect of high salt on blood pressure, say the study’s authors. But while the vitamins and minerals in fruit and veg do tend to lower blood pressure, this latest research suggests they don’t offset the effects of a high salt intake.

The recommended upper link of salt for adults in the UK is 6g a day. But according to the study, the average intake in the UK is 8.5g.

“We currently have a global epidemic of high salt intake – and high blood pressure,” says Dr Queenie Chan, joint lead author of the research from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London.

“This research shows there are no cheats when it comes to reducing blood pressure. Having a low salt diet is key – even if your diet is otherwise healthy and balanced.”

How to cut down

Reducing the amount of salt you use in cooking or add to food at the table may help to a certain extent. But according to Blood Pressure UK, most of the salt you eat every day is ‘hidden’, meaning it’s found in processed foods such as bread, biscuits, breakfast cereals, ready meals and takeaways. In fact, Blood Pressure UK claims this ‘hidden’ salt accounts for around 75 per cent of the salt we eat every day.

Avoiding eating processed foods that are high in salt means checking food labels when you’re out shopping, and trying to choose mostly foods that are low in salt. Many foods already have labels that show you instantly whether they’re high, medium or low in salt. You can also use the following as a guide:

  • Low = 0.3g salt or less per 100g
  • Medium = 0.3-1.5g per 100g
  • High = 1.5g or more per 100g

According to Blood Pressure UK, eat plenty of foods in the low category, and small amounts of those that have a medium amount of salt occasionally. But try to avoid foods that are high in salt as much as possible, including the following:

Anchovies

Bacon

Cheese

Chips (if salt is added)

Coated chicken (eg nuggets)

Corn snacks

Gravy granules

Ham

Noodle snack pots

Olives

Pickles

Potato snacks

Prawns

Salami

Salted and dry roasted nuts

Salt fit

Sausages

Smoked meat and fish

Soy sauce

Stock cubes and bouillon

Yeast extract

* A note about sodium Some food labels state the amount of sodium in food, rather than salt, especially if the product is imported. But the two are not the same, as 1g of sodium is the equivalent of 2.5g of salt. Low-sodium foods contain 0.1g sodium or less per 100g, medium-sodium foods contain 0.1 – 0.6g sodium per 100g, and high-sodium foods have 0.6 sodium or more per 100g.

For lots more tips on keeping your blood pressure healthy, have a chat with your local Careway pharmacist. Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.