What research on salt tells us
How to keep track of recommended salt intake
Are you worth your salt? I’m sure you are, but that old phrase is from when salt was expensive because of the cost of mining it. Now salt is cheap and gets added to a lot of the foods we eat and that’s where the trouble begins.
Researchers on the effect of salt on health found excessive amounts raised blood pressure, which can lead to hypertension and related problems like heart failure and kidney disease. The food industry has been accused of adding too much salt to both improve the flavour and shelf-life of their ingredients which in turns leads to further profits.
As a result of ongoing salt research, countries across the world have put in place sodium reduction strategies and lots of households have tried to remove salt from their cooking and the dinner table.
But is salt really so bad? Obviously we all want to look after our health, but different studies now seem to suggest cutting out salt is as bad for you as too much. As a special report from Reuters tells us,  the fight between pro and anti salt researchers is still going on across the globe as various new research appears to contradict the other.
It may be that we have to do our own research and look at how salt might affect us personally by looking at our health needs at different stages in our lives. For example, as babies, children, young adults and in mid and late life. It’s also clear that modern diets have a lot more processed foods than our grandparents had and we have to be more vigilant about what is in our food.
As a quick guide to recommended amounts of salt per day:
Babies shouldn’t be given salt as it will affect the development of their kidneys and very young children don’t need extra salt as any processed food they eat, like in bread or cereals, will already have salt added.
- 1-3 years 2g
- 4-6 years 3g
- 7-10 years 5g
- 11 years and older 6g
Keep an eye on what’s in the snacks you buy for children as these are made for eating on the go and many brands give a flavour kick with extra sugar and salt. Instead of offering nibbles like crisps and biscuits, consider giving fruit, dried fruit or raw vegetable sticks instead.
Adults should eat no more than around one full teaspoon (6g) of salt a day. Be aware of how much salt is in the foods you eat in everyday items like cheese, meats, bread, pickles and takeaways. Different brands will have varying amounts, so check the label to be sure.
It’s difficult to completely cut salt out of your diet, and you probably shouldn’t. But being aware of your intake is useful and certainly won’t do you any harm. More information on healthy diets and salt intake for your situation should be discussed with your doctor as everyone is different.