Here is what you need to know about salt
Salt v’s sodium – Salt is a combination of two minerals, sodium, and chloride but often the words salt, and sodium are used interchangeably. Salt will be listed on the ingredients list, but in the nutritional information panel (the numbers on the back of a food package), you will see only sodium listed.
We do need some sodium (which we eat in the form of salt) to function which can easily be got through eating unprocessed foods. Most people don’t need to add salt to their food to get the minimum amount needed. Too much sodium, however, can cause issues in our body including increasing the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
It is recommended that adults should eat no more than 5g of salt a day in all their food, this is equal to 2000mg of sodium. Children need to have even less, for example the upper level of sodium for a 2-3 year old is 1000mg and for 4-8 year old’s it’s only 1400mg.
The average NZ adult now has 8.5g of day and many children have far more than is good for their body, much of which (75%) comes from processed and packaged food.
Salty food can encourage us to overeat and when salt and fat are combined in a food (like chips) it can override the fat’s normal ability to give us that feeling of fullness. Hence, it can be very hard to stop eating them! Think how many more salted nuts you can eat than the unsalted type.
Pink v’s white salt. In NZ, due to the nature of our volcanic soils, many of us don’t get enough iodine from the foods we eat that are grown in the ground. Iodine is a mineral your body needs to help ensure your thyroid gland works correctly, and without it you can develop a goitre.
When it comes to the salt you add to your food, the best option for most people will one that is iodised. While the pink salt might be less processed, it doesn’t contain the levels of iodine as the white salt with added iodine. While it may container higher levels of some other trace minerals, there are much better places to get these from than salt, so overall, this is one case, the winner isn’t what you might think!
How to cut down on salt
Use fresh herbs and spices rather than the salt shaker to boost a dish‘s flavour
Add lemon or lime juice to foods you think will benefit from their tang and flavour
Try this salt-free seasoning: 5 teaspoons onion powder, 2½ teaspoons garlic powder, 2½ teaspoons sweet paprika, 2½ teaspoons dry mustard, 1¼ teaspoons dried thyme, ½ teaspoon white pepper, ¼ teaspoon celery seeds
To help you cut down on the amount of salt you use, opt for a flavoured salt. Flavoured salt uses additional herbs in the salt mix, which means that, spoon for spoon, overall, you’ll use less salt!
Low-salt snack ideas
Unsalted peanut butter on slices of apple
Air popped corn
For more on salt, check out the advice from the Heart Foundation.
Want to understand more about food, diet trends and food labels? You can grab yourself a replay of Claire's amazing ‘Start Here’ Masterclass.