Salt – the silent killer
We are told that too much salt is bad for our health, but how much is too much?
Used for millennia as a preservative and added to our foods for flavour, salt is tasty and addictive but according to World Action on Salt and Health, too much salt has a major detrimental affect on the health of one out of three adults in the UK by raising blood pressure.
If the natural balance of sodium in our bodies is disrupted by a diet high in salt then blood pressure will rise. This in turn increases the risk of further health problems such as heart disease and stroke.
However, salt is not all bad and our bodies require a certain amount of salt every day, so how do we get the balance right?
The science of salt
Sodium chloride, commonly known as salt, is in fact 2 minerals: sodium and chloride. Our bodies require both these minerals to function properly.
Our body water content and our balance of electrolytes are regulated by sodium which depends on a balance between how much sodium the kidneys excrete which in turn is regulated by nerves and hormones.
The absorption of nutrients and water from the gut is also helped by sodium levels.
How much salt each day?
One full teaspoon or 6g is all we should be consuming each day, according to the Food Standards Agency. However, much of this we eat unknowingly as it is hidden in everyday foods such as breakfast cereals, bread or ready meals.
Some foods are more obviously high in salt such as bacon, stock cubes, ham, salami, anchovies, cheese, soy sauce, yeast extract, salted and dry roasted nuts, smoked fish and meat and should be eaten sparingly, along with crisps, pasta sauces, pizza and sausages.
The best way to control the amount of salt you consume is by eating home prepared food, cooked from scratch.
Less salt for children too
Salt for a child should be limited as follows:
- From 1 to 3 years only 2g of salt a day
- From 4 to 6 years only 3g of salt a day
- From 7 to 10 years only 5g of salt a day
- Over 11 years only 6g of salt a day
For children under 1 year old both breast milk and formula milk provide the right amount of salt for their kidneys. Babies cannot cope with more than 1g of salt a day and so should not be given any extra.
How can we eat less salt?
The simplest way to cut back on salt is to stop adding it to food or cooking. There are already natural salts in vegetables, meat and fish so you don’t need any more. If you want extra flavour then try adding herbs, spices or balsamic vinegar.
However it is very easy to eat everyday foods without noticing how much salt they contain. Wherever possible choose those with a lower salt content. Read the labels carefully as they should indicate how much salt is present per 100g:
- More than 1.5g salt per 100g (or 0.6g sodium) is HIGH and there may be a red traffic light on the label
- Less than 0.3g salt per 100g (or 0.1g sodium) is LOW and there may be a green traffic light on the label
- Between 0.3g and 1.5g is MEDIUM and there may be an amber traffic light on the label.
Sea salt and table salt contain the same amount of sodium chloride.
See more articles for tasty salad ideas
Do we need more salt in hot weather?
Despite some salt being lost through sweating in hot weather or exercising, extra salt is not generally needed. Our bodies can regulate the amount of salt lost and if we are eating healthily will balance it for us.
It is important though to avoid becoming dehydrated in hot weather so it is recommended to raise fluid intake to 1 or 2 glasses of per hour.
Check here to see if you are dehydrated
For more information on salt visit:
All content on Silversurfers.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated at all as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. Silversurfers will not be responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content on www.silversurfers.com and we are also not liable for the content of any external websites or links from or to Silversurfers to any other websites. Please always consult your own doctor if you’re in any way concerned about any aspect of your health
Have you got a health question?
We've teamed up with AXA PPP healthcare to bring you articles, information and tips from their clinical teams on a wide range of health topics. And if you have a question of your own, their, "Ask the Expert" service allows you to ask the team of friendly, experienced nurses, pharmacists and midwives about any health topic and they'll get back to you with an answer as soon as they’re able.* So if you have something that’s been bothering you, whether it concerns you or someone close to you, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Click below to submit your query online.
* Nurses are available 24/7, 365 days a year. Midwives and pharmacists are available Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm; Saturday, 8am to 4pm; and Sunday, 8am to 12pm.
Actual response time will depend on the nature of your enquiry and availability of appropriately qualified experts but the team will always aim to get back to you within 24 hours.
Please note that our Expert Help services are there to offer health information and support. They do not diagnose or prescribe, and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice given in the context of an individual consultation.
AXA PPP healthcare
Leave a Comment!
Community Terms & Conditions
These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.
You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.
be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.
Contributions must not:
contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.
Nurturing a safe environment
Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.
We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!