No salt, low salt what the…
The seasonings aisle at the supermarket can be overwhelming, especially if you’re trying to find a healthy alternative to salt. There are many seasoning products on the market and the ways the food industry promotes them can make it difficult to find a healthy choice. Sea salt has long been touted as a healthy alterative to table salt and it’s no surprise that 61% of respondents in a survey conducted by the American Heart Association believed sea salt to be low-sodium alternative to table salt. Sea Salt is no better for you than normal table salt.
There are many other products that are marketed as being healthy alternatives to salt. Commercial “salt substitutes” are one such product. Most salt substitutes contain potassium chloride in place of sodium chloride. By replacing sodium with potassium in the chemical structure of salt, food scientists have developed a variety of “salt substitutes” that taste similar to table salt and that can help reduce overall sodium intake when used in place of table salt.
You might be using a potassium based salt substitute without realising it. It would be wise to go through your cupboard and check ingredient labels — if you see potassium chloride listed, the seasoning is a potassium based salt substitute.
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.
Heart Failure and Identifying Salt Levels
As a Heart Failure patient it is very important to managing my salt intake, about 2g per day, if you are reading this then you will probably have an average intake of 6+mg. In fact 26 million Britains eat too much salt every day. Salt is a long term issue as the health issues are identified years after the consumption has taken place, it builds up in your system.
This may help you –
When you’re comparing the salt level of different food products, look at the nutritional information on the labels and make sure you’re comparing like with like. The easiest way is to check the figure for salt per 100g on both labels. Choose the one that is lower in salt – even if there is quite a small difference in salt content, choosing the lower one can help you cut down on salt, especially if it’s a food you eat a lot of.
If the label also tells you how much salt is in one serving or one slice, remember that the servings won’t always be the same size from brand to brand – and they may also not be the same amount you would eat.
Here is a quick way to tell if a food is high in salt by looking at the nutritional information on the label.
Look at the figure for salt per 100g.
High is more than 1.5g salt per 100g (or 0.6g sodium)
Low is 0.3g salt or less per 100g (or 0.1g sodium)
If the amount of salt per 100g is in between these figures, then that is a medium level of salt.
Foods produced by some supermarkets and manufacturers have ‘traffic light’ colours on the front of the pack, which show you if a food is high (red), medium (amber) or low (green) in fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt. For a healthier choice try to pick products with more greens and ambers and fewer reds.
Look at the nutritional information on the label. If the label gives a figure for salt per 100g, all you have to do is work out how much salt is in the amount you will eat. So if you’re eating 500g, you would multiply the figure for 100g by 5.
The label might also tell you how much salt (or sodium) is in the whole pack or in part of the pack. Remember that the serving size listed on the label may not be the same as the amount you will eat and it may be different from brand to brand.
If you only have a figure for sodium, work out how much sodium is in the amount you will eat. And then multiply this by 2.5 to find the amount of salt.
How can I work out how much salt I’m eating?
It would be 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.
But if you find out the amount of salt in a few of the foods you normally eat, then you’ll see how easy it can be to eat more than 6g in one day. So if you eat a 200g ham sandwich that contains 1.6g salt per 100g, then that would be 3.2g salt, which is more than half of an adult’s daily maximum of 6g. Scary hey!
What’s the difference between sodium and salt?
Salt is also known as sodium chloride. So sodium is part of salt. Having too much sodium could increase your blood pressure.
Lots of food labels tell you how much salt is in 100g of the food. Sometimes they only give a figure for sodium, or they might give both.
Sodium x 2.5 = salt
If you know how much sodium is in a food, you can work out roughly the amount of salt it contains by multiplying the sodium by 2.5. So if a portion of food contains 1.2g sodium, then it contains about 3g salt.
Use this calculator to help you