Salt and High Blood Pressure
We need salt to survive………….. but too much is possibly a health risk too far.
How Salt Affects Blood Pressure:
Salt (sodium) is essential for our bodies to function and it is our kidneys that control the level of salt. Too much salt and our kidneys extract it, passing it into our urine. But the kidneys can be overloaded, when our salt intake levels are very high, and they cannot keep pace, leaving excess salt in our bloodstream. This makes our bodies hold on to more water, increasing the blood pressure.
Recommended Salt Intake:
Adults should eat no more than 5g of salt a day: that’s around one full teaspoon.
Children should eat less:
- 1 to 3 years: 2g salt a day
- 4 to 6 years: 3g salt a day
- 7 to 10 years: 5g salt a day
- 11 years and over: 6g salt a day
Lowering Your Salt Intake:
Processed foods tend to use salt as an additive and flavour enhancer with around 80% of the average person’s daily salt intake coming from processed foods. So, it is in our best interests if we cooked our own food and had complete control over our salt intake.
Make use of the nutrition labels on food packaging:
- High is more than 1.5g salt per 100g
- Low is 0.3g salt or less per 100g
Some foods are almost always high in salt simply because of the way they are prepared.
Other foods, ones that we tend to eat a lot of such as bread and breakfast cereals, can contribute a lot of salt to our diet. This is due to the amount eaten rather than their individual salt levels.
Foods to Avoid:
These foods are almost always high in salt. To cut down on salt, eat them less often or have smaller amounts:
- salted nuts
- dry roasted nuts
- salt fish
- smoked fish
- smoked meat
- soy sauce
- stock cubes
- gravy granules
In other foods, the salt content can vary widely between different manufacturers or brands. It is best to compare these before purchasing and choosing the variety that has a lower salt level. This is one of the real benefits of nutrition labels.
These foods include:
- bread products such as crumpets, bagels,etc
- pasta sauces
- breakfast cereals
- ready meals
- tomato ketchup
Remember to check the label and save your kidneys, heart and blood vessels any grief.