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10 top tips to reduce salt in your diet

10 top tips to reduce salt in your diet


While many of us love salty foods and snacks, it’s important to keep a check on how much salt is in our diet.

That’s because eating too much salt (or sodium) can lead to high blood pressure, increasing your risk of heart attacks and strokes.

High salt consumption is also linked with obesity, because salty foods make us hungrier and thirstier – driving us to eat more or reach for sugary drinks.

The problem is, most of us eat more salt than we realise.

The recommended daily intake for an adult is no more than 6g – that’s about one level teaspoon.

But it’s difficult to measure what you can’t see, and the fact is three-quarters of the salt we eat is already in the foods we buy (even if they don’t actually taste particularly salty!)

So, to help you stay healthy, here are 10 top tips to cut down on salt...

1. Taste your food first!

Let’s be honest, we Brits have a habit of immediately dousing our dinners in salt and vinegar (and not just when it comes to fish and chips either!).

It sounds simple but, before reaching for that shaker, try your food first! Does it really need extra salt? If so, if you’ve cooked it yourself, next time try adding extra flavour with herbs and spices, garlic, chilli, black pepper, lime or lemon juice. You’ll enjoy a wider variety of tastes and they’ll be better for you. 

2. Grab your chef’s hat!

Processed foods and ready meals are often high in salt to add flavour and mask cheap ingredients. So, if you don’t usually cook but are seriously looking to cut down on salt, it’s time to get in the kitchen!

Some of us love cooking, while others don’t...but either way, you don’t need to be Jamie or Nigella to make something simple and tasty. You can find tons of easy recipes online and there are lots of trendy foodies to follow on social media. 

3. Red light spells danger

We’re more accustomed to checking food labels these days, but it’s easy to focus on fat, carbs and protein. Make sure to keep an eye on the right-hand ‘traffic light’ box and watch out for red. If you’re picking something that is high in salt, just make sure to balance things out throughout the day with low-salt options so you stay within your recommended 6g allowance. 

4. Don’t get too saucy!

Many sauces and condiments such as ketchup, brown sauce, mayonnaise, mustard and gravy can contain high levels of salt, so try not to have too much of them on your plate. Look for reduced salt versions of stock cubes, soy and other sauces. Likewise, eat olives and pickles in small amounts. Planning on using tinned vegetables, pulses or fish? Buy them in water instead of brine (although fresh or frozen is still best). 

5. Limit cured meats and cheese

Processed meats such as bacon, ham, sausage, salami and pepperoni include high levels of salt, as do many types of cheese, so try to eat these in moderation. Making sandwiches to take to work? Choose fresh cuts of meat instead or, better yet, slice up some home-cooked chicken or turkey breast - and try to add veggies and salad to fill you up and help you hit your ‘five a day’. 

6. Watch out for bread

Since we’re talking about sandwiches, it’s worth mentioning bread. While a regular slice of bread isn’t especially salty (around 100 to 200mg), many of us do eat a fair amount of it and the levels of salt can vary depending on what type of bread you’re buying. A 6-inch flour tortilla wrap, for instance, can contain more than 400mg – so try not to go overboard.

7. Another pizza advice...

Bread, cheese, tomato sauce, pepperoni...if you’re keeping score then you know it’s bad news for pizza lovers! Yes, all the essential ingredients for a good pizza contain high amounts of salt - so it’s a good idea to save your favourite takeaway for the really special occasions. Or why not have a go at baking your own, healthier pizzas at home topped with reduced salt versions of sauce and mozzarella along with mushrooms, peppers and other tasty veggies? Just hold the anchovies! 

8. Make your own soup!

Soup can make for a healthy, low-calorie lunch but canned soup is often high in sodium. Making your own is relatively simple and will likely save you money too. So plan ahead, make a large batch of homemade soup (go sparingly on the salt, obviously!) and freeze in individual portions for convenience. 

9. Choose snacks wisely

Snack time is where many of us can come undone when it comes to salt, particularly those of us who love savoury over sweet. Turn to healthier alternatives such as plain rice cakes, fruit, or vegetable sticks with hummus. If you’re in need of a treat, keep crisps to a minimum and choose unsalted rather than salted nuts. They taste great as they are! 

10. Take it off the table!

If you’re looking to reduce the amount of salt you eat, don’t leave the saltshaker on the table for mealtimes. Instead, keep it tucked safely away in the cupboard – out of sight, out of mind. Adding salt can be a habit, so just try to go without for a while. Or, if you’re struggling without that salty taste, gradually reduce the amount you add each time. Your tastebuds will adjust and your heart will thank you for it.

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Posted on Tuesday 23rd April 2024

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