Healthy eating is becoming easier and easier thanks to better access and awareness of healthier recipes and foods on the internet. However, despite the push for better diets, many of us are still consuming too much salt. Are you guilty of consuming too much salt? Some changes to your lifestyle could be in order.
Processed meats still contain too much salt
A new report from Public Health England has found that processed meats like sausages and bacon are still ‘too high in salt’. While the meat industry says it’s doing its part to reduce salt consumption, targets set by PHE are still being missed.
PHE has set a target for several areas of the food industry to meet the average and maximum salt targets per 100g in various food categories. These include restaurants, retailers, manufacturers, pubs and cafes. Some of the findings in the report include:
- Processed meats (such as sausages, bacon, etc.) failed to meet any of the average targets, with over 43% of products containing levels that are above the maximum levels.
- Many food products such as ready meals, soups, vegetarian foods, biscuits, rice and cereals also failed to meet the average targets.
It’s not all bad news, however. While many foods were still found to contain too much salt, cereals, spreads, pastas, pizzas, cakes, gravies and others all met the average targets. This has helped to meet salt level targets for almost 50% of foods consumed in the home. While salt consumption is falling, there is still more that can be done to further reduce salt intake and ease the impact that too much salt can have on health.
How much salt is too much?
Salt is found in many of the foods we eat, but do you know how much salt is too much? The daily recommended salt intake levels are:
- It’s recommended that adults consume no more than 6g of salt a day – the equivalent of a teaspoon.
- Children’s recommended daily amounts vary according to their age:
1 to 3 years – 2g
4 to 6 years – 3g
7 to 10 years – 5g
11 years and over – 6g
- Babies should have minimal salt – less than 1g a day as their kidneys have yet to fully develop to process it.
Most of the salt we consume comes from the food we eat, rather than adding it to our food.
Taking further steps to reduce your salt intake
There are different steps you can take to reduce salt in your diet, but some additional ideas to cut your salt intake include:
- Checking the labels on foods that you might not think contain much, or any, salt. Meats in particular – especially processed meats could have a much higher salt content than you realise.
- Avoid takeaways that are likely to be high in salt content. Cooking your favourite takeaway foods at home can help you save money, expand your culinary repertoire and help you to eat healthier overall.
- Choose stock cubes, gravies and other sauce options that are low in salt. Reduced salt options are becoming more common in supermarkets, but it’s always worth checking alternatives.
- Remember to check the salt content of sweet treats – these can also be high in salt content, but you may not think of them as having salt in them.
- If you’re making meals for the entire family, remember to bear in mind the recommended salt content for children – especially if you plan on making meals for infants too.
While it’s important not to consume too much salt, you shouldn’t cut it out altogether. Salt helps your body when exercising, to regulate your fluid levels and help your muscles to contract as needed. Stay within the recommended amount to maintain a healthy balance.