Salt contains sodium which is essential for ensuring that many of the chemical reactions in our body can take place successfully. However eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure and significantly increase your chances of heart disease and strokes. It is important therefore to ensure that your salt consumption stays within sensible limits.
When most people think of salt, they think of shaking it on to their food or adding a pinch to their cooking. However ¾ (75%) of the salt which we eat comes from processed foods such as breakfast cereals, soups, sauces, ready meals and biscuits. You don’t need to stop eating high salt foods altogether, but it is a good idea to cut down on the amount you eat. With types of food that are sometimes high in salt, take a look at the level and try to choose brands or labels that contain less salt.
In the UK and Ireland, bread, breakfast cereals, biscuits, cakes and meat products such as bacon, sausages and ham are some of the main sources of salt in people’s diet.
How much salt should we eat ?
It is recommended that adults do not eat more than 6g of salt per day. This is the equivalent of about a teaspoonful of salt. This is not a large amount especially when you consider that 75% of the salt we eat is already in everyday foods.
It is very difficult to calculate exactly how much salt you eat in a day, because you would need to know the salt content of each food and measure the exact quantities you eat.
However it is useful to know the recommended maximum of 6g, because if you find out the amount of salt in a few of the foods which you normally eat, then you will see how easy it is to eat more than 6g.
This is a lot of salt in food = 1.25g of salt or more per 100g
This is a little salt in food = 0.25g of salt or more per 100g.
How much salt should children have?
1 – 3 years old - 2g salt per day
4 – 6 years old - 3g salt per day
7 – 10 years old - 5g salt per day
11+ - 6g salt per day
Sodium and Salt
Salt is made of Sodium and Chloride. Sodium is sometimes listed on the food label instead of salt.
Salt = Sodium x 2.5
If you know how much sodium is in a food then the amount of salt can be determined by multiplying by 2.5. Therefore if a food contained 2g of Sodium it would contain 5g of salt.
2g sodium x 2.5 = 5g of salt
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