As part of Salt awareness week we thought we find out what is being done to highlight and make reading salt and sodium contents easier on packaging. This information comes from the Food Standards Agency.
“ The Food Standards Agency published details of qualitative research exploring people’s preferences and understanding of the way in which salt and sodium information is presented on food labels. People taking part in the research were keen for labelling of salt or sodium to be as clear and consistent as possible and preferred the use of the term ‘salt’ on food labels. This was because it was most familiar to them and because they did not necessarily understand the relationship between salt and sodium.
While there was understanding of the health consequences of eating too much salt, there was little awareness that sodium is the part of salt that can cause raised blood pressure if eaten in large quantities.
This piece of research was carried out to help inform the UK’s discussions in Europe and internationally on the best way to label foods.
Head of Nutrition at the Food Standards Agency, Clair Baynton, said: ‘Too much salt in the diet can raise blood pressure, which increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke. As a nation we are eating too much salt and here in the UK, a lot of work is going on to reduce salt in food products.
‘Our research highlights that although people have generally got the message that too much salt is bad for health, it’s not always easy for them to check how much they are eating as labelling can be confusing.’
This research was carried out by thepeoplepartnership and used a combination of in-depth interviews and group discussions. Fieldwork took place in six locations across the UK from 18 to 30 November 2009.
Salt Awareness Week
Next week March 21st – March 27th 2011 is National salt awareness week. If you read Pumping Marvellous a lot you will know we are quite obsessed with managing salt intake for Heart Failure Patients so look out for our week of tips next week on how to reduce and manage salt intake. The best way to see all these is by registering for our posts by email service which will keep you informed on your mobile or desktop.
Keep your blood pressure down
When blood pressure is too high, the heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body. To cope with the extra effort the heart muscle becomes thicker over time, but eventually it becomes too stiff or weak to work properly. Keeping blood pressure down can stop this happening so it is useful to have a blood pressure check regularly.
The doctor, nurse or pharmacist who takes your blood pressure will be able to tell you whether it is normal. They will give you two numbers because blood pressure goes up and down over the cycle of the heartbeat. One of the numbers is your highest (systolic) blood pressure, the pressure when your heart beats and forces the blood around the body, and one is the lowest (diastolic) blood pressure, the pressure when your heart relaxes after beating, allowing the heart to fill with blood. The highest number should not be above 140, and the lowest should be below 90. So a reading of 138/84 is in the normal range, but a reading of 150/94 would be too high.
It is important to know that one measurement is not usually enough to tell if you have high blood pressure. If your first reading is high, two or three readings are normally taken at other times. This is because blood pressure increases when people are under physical or emotional stress, so your reading can be higher than usual when you are somewhere unfamiliar, such as a doctors surgery or a hospital. This is sometimes called white coat hypertension.
Therefore, a few measurements with you sitting down and relatively relaxed, will give a good idea of what your blood pressure really is. In some cases, your doctor might want you to have 24-hour blood pressure monitoring (ambulatory blood pressure monitoring or ABPM), where you wear a blood pressure monitoring machine for 24 hours to get an accurate blood pressure reading. This kind of monitoring is not usually necessary.
Lifestyle Changes to help you manage your blood pressure
There are a few simple lifestyle changes that will keep blood pressure down including:
• Losing excess weight.
• Eating more fruit and vegetables.
• Cutting down on salt.
• Taking regular exercise.
• Not drinking more alcohol than the recommended daily amount.
It may also be necessary to take blood pressure medicines (usually more than one) to get your blood pressure down to a healthy level. It is important that you and your doctor choose the medicine or combination of medicines that will suit you. Always ask what when you getting prescribed a drug – what is it for – how does it interact with me -finally are there any side effects?