We consume salt on a daily basis, yet it gets a bad rap. Salt is an essential part of a healthy diet and here’s why…
Our bodies need salt, which is known as sodium chloride, because it’s is one of the essential minerals required for good nerve and muscle functioning. In the recommended quantity, salt supports optimal overall health.
Too much of any food can have a negative impact on your health. Rather than singling out salt, the key is to focus on your overall health through a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. It’s less about getting rid of the salt shaker or grinder on the kitchen counter or dinner table, and more about avoiding the salts hidden in foods that we don’t even think of as salty – taking control of your salt intake and keeping the choice in your own hands.
The good news!
Salt is an important and essential mineral in many body functions. At the recommended level of no more than 5ml (1 tsp) a day, salt helps to:
- Control blood sugar by improving insulin sensitivity, which decreases the risk of diabetes.
- Maintain the right levels of stomach acid needed for good digestion.
- Reduce stress hormones and improve sleep quality.
- Improve metabolism and encourage a healthy weight.
- Support a healthy thyroid function, which helps the brain, muscles, heart and other organs to work efficiently and controls how the body uses food for energy.
- Balance hormone levels, helping the body to retain other important minerals such as magnesium and potassium.
The Saltiest Six
Avoid these hidden salt traps by making easy swops.
1. Cold cuts & cured meats
These are meats preserved by smoking, curing or salting. These meats include ham, salami from the supermarket deli counter and sausages like Viennas and Frankfurters. One serving – approximately 60g or six thin slices – can contain as much as half of your daily sodium allowance. For meaty sandwiches and wraps, rather use up your Sunday-roast leftovers or opt for tuna or salmon.
2. Bread & rolls
Bread may not taste salty, but it’s a big culprit in the hidden salt department. Two slices of white bread can contain 300mg sodium, and the “healthier” options such as brown, multi-grain or rye bread can hold up to 500mg sodium – that’s a quarter of your daily allowance. Wraps don’t come off much better. The answer? Look for low-sodium options and, better still, cut down on bread – it’s good for your overall health too.
Here you’re getting a double whammy from the salt content of the bread as well as the filling, especially if it includes cold meats and condiments. Have half a sandwich with a salad, and opt for fillings like veggies and hummus, boiled egg, or fish.
A standard-size pizza can wipe out your daily salt allowance in one go! Save this one for treats, limit the cheese and meaty toppings, or make your own at home.
Always choose fresh 100% chicken rather that frozen chicken as frozen chicken has a high sodium-chloride content.
A cup of tinned, packet or instant soup can contain up to half of your recommended daily intake of salt. Read the labels and look out for low sodium options. Best solution: make your own healthy soup at home, and then you’ll know exactly what’s in it.
Top tip: salt is an important part of a healthy diet.