Healthy Eating: Reduce Your Salt Intake
PASS THE SALT?
Think before you sprinkle’ is the rule. An adult needs only 3g (1/8oz) of salt a day and we get easily that much from the natural salt in food. Adding extra can push the figure up to 20g (3/4oz) or more, straining the kidneys and contributing to high blood pressure.
Don’t suddenly stop adding salt altogether if you’re used to the taste. Reduce the amount gradually so that your taste buds have time to adapt. Always taste food before adding any extra salt.
Cutting out all added salt will reduce intake to about 6g (1/4oz) a day, which is low enough to help most people with high blood pressure, although some low-sodium diets may recommend even less. Your doctor will be able to advise you.
Avoid salty flavourings such as stock cubes, Marmite, Bovril and soya sauce if you’re on a low-salt diet, and also baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, which have a high sodium content. Buy low-sodium alternatives from a health food shop.
Making salt go farther
The Japanese have a clever way to use less salt – they mix it with sesame seeds to make a seasoning called gomasio, which they use in place of pure salt. To
make it, put ten teaspoons of sesame seeds into a heavy frying pan with one teaspoon of sea salt and heat gently, stirring all the time, until golden-brown. Then grind the mixture to a fine powder in a coffee mill and use sparingly.
It’s less purified than ordinary salt and has a slightly different flavour (some types may also contain a little more iodine), but otherwise it’s no better for you, so be just as careful with the amount you use.
If you’re worried about salt, Chinese and Japanese restaurants may be a bad choice. Some of their meals could contain as much as 12g (3/8oz) compared with about 3g (1/8oz) in a French or Italian meal.
Substitutes for Salt
An addiction to salt makes it easy to overlook other flavourings. Next time something needs seasoning during cooking, try one of these:
- tomato puree
- lemon rind and juice
- wine, beer or cider
- toasted almonds
- black pepper
- finely chopped onion
- plain yoghurt