Hidden Salt In Your Processed Food Is Killing You Silently
When most people think of salt, they think of shaking it on their food, or adding a pinch to cooking. And it’s important to try to get out of the habit of using salt in this way. But you also need to be careful about the salt you can’t see. Three-quarters (75%) of the salt we eat comes from processed food, such as breakfast cereals, soups, sauces, ready meals and biscuits.
Almost everyone eats some processed foods. Even people who make all their own meals from scratch will usually buy foods such as bread and biscuits and these can be high in salt. So, before you assume that you don’t eat too much salt, take a look at what you’re buying, as well as how you use salt at home.
Cutting Down Salt Slowly Can Help
The Salt Limit: 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. 6g of salt is about a teaspoonful. But it’s good to know the recommended maximum of 6g, because 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.
How much salt should children have?
The daily recommended maximum for children depends on their age:
- 1 to 3 years – 2 g salt a day (0.8g sodium)
- 4 to 6 years – 3g salt a day (1.2g sodium)
- 7 to 10 years – 5g salt a day (2g sodium)
- 11 and over – 6g salt a day (2.5g sodium)
These are the recommended maximums for children. It is better for them to have less.
You don’t need to stop eating high-salt foods altogether, but it’s a good idea to cut down on the amount you eat. With types of food that are sometimes high in salt, take a look at the label and try to choose brands/recipes that contain less salt. If you’re buying processed foods, even those aimed at children, remember to check the information given on the labels so you can choose those with less salt.
Bread, breakfast cereals, biscuits, cakes and meat products such as bacon, sausages and ham are some of the main sources of salt in people’s diet. Some foods contain other forms of sodium, used as flavor enhancers and raising agents, such as monosodium glutamate and sodium bicarbonate. One of the easiest ways to cut down on salt is to compare foods and choose those that are lower in salt whenever you can.
Cooking Food Without Salt
Don’t be afraid to experiment with other flavorings. Try sprinkling lemon juice, or adding fresh herbs, garlic, ginger or chili. To cook up delicious dishes without salt, use good quality, fresh ingredients so that you get the natural flavors coming out. Fresh herbs keep for about five days but you can grow them just as easily. Remember to taste the food as you go along so that you don’t overdo it!
- Add fresh herbs to pasta dishes and vegetables.
- Use garlic, ginger, chilli and lime in stir fries.
- Make your own stock and gravy, instead of using cubes or granules.
- Roast vegetables such as red peppers, courgettes, fennel, parsnips and squash to bring out their flavor.
- Squeeze lemon juice onto fish or seafood.
- Try using different types of onion – brown, red, white, spring onions, shallots.
- Make sauces using ripe flavorsome tomatoes and garlic.
- Use black pepper as seasoning on pasta instead of salt.
If you have time, you could make your own spice mix. Bear in mind that spice mixes you buy could contain salt. Try sprinkling a combination of some or all of these ingredients on your food before you cook it.