Salt is not bad for health. However, the excessive intake of sodium-containing salt, also called sodium-chloride, could have a negative impact on the cardiovascular system, especially when combined with a low intake of potassium. Today, most of the people consume about twice the recommended amount worldwide. Salt reduction on its own is a cost-effective way that could prevent 2.5 million deaths globally.
Risks related to high sodium intake
- High blood pressure, especially when combined with a low intake of potassium which tends to decrease the blood pressure.
- Increased risk of stroke, heart disease and heart failure.
- Increased risk of kidney disease.
Examples of food high in salt
Meat and seafood: anchovies, bacon, ham, prawns, salami, salt fish, smoked meat and fish.
Vegan sources: olives, salted and dry-roasted nuts, soy sauce, pickles, stock cubes.
Other non-vegan sources: cheese, stock cubes, yeast extract.
How to avoid eating too much salt
- A healthy adult should take no more than 5g salt /day (≈ 1 teaspoon). This is equivalent to 3g of sodium/day and regroups any food source, including processed food and junk food. In fact, processed food count for 80% of the sodium daily intake in several countries, while the natural amount of salt in food is about 10% and the amount we add while cooking or eating is about 5-10%.
Salt reduction could be achieved through:
- Avoiding adding salt to food when cooking and while eating
- Checking the amount of sodium in processed food and selecting products lower in sodium (e.g. unsalted snacks).
- Replacing salt with other spices and herbs for a better taste and flavour.
- An increased potassium intake helps to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. This could be achieved by eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.
The global recommendation for healthy adults is to not exceed 5g of salt/day (≈ 1 teaspoon).