A Pinch of Salt- How much salt is too much?

Deevya Gupta is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian in Melbourne

You may have heard or been advised by someone to try and cut down on salt- but why?

Australians and Indian’s on average consume more than double the recommended daily levels of salt. Up to 87% of the daily salt intake is just from adding salt to meals.

Salt or ‘sodium’ is an essential electrolyte and mineral needed to help bodily functions. An over-restriction of salt intake may observe some risks. In most cases, we already know of the many risks associated with over-consumption of salt in our diet, such as affecting blood pressure, osteoporosis, cancer, heart and kidney health.

How much salt is needed for the body?

According to The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Australian adults should aim to consume no more than one teaspoon (5 grams) of salt a day (or 2,000mg of sodium a day) in order to prevent chronic disease (unless otherwise specified by a doctor).
Keep in mind that there are many other foods that naturally also contain salt.

Top 7 salty foods include:
1. White or brown bread
2. Biscuits and namkeen- sweet or salty
3. Cornflakes and other cereals
4. Processed cheese
5. Condiments and sauces
6. Packaged and processed foods
7. Instant noodles

How can I reduce my salt intake?

Read the nutritional labels:
Aim for sodium to be 120mg per 100g, up to 400mg per 100g may be considered moderate.

Keep up with your water intake:
Ensure you have at least 8-10 glasses or as directed by your health professional to avoid dehydration. Dehydration in addition to higher salt intake can place a larger burden on your kidneys.

Avoid adding extra salt to foods
As you can see the top 7 foods above are usually foods we may eat on a regular basis, therefore any additional salt is what usually would push us over the recommended intake. When you begin to reduce your salt intake, food may not taste the same however, your taste buds will adapt within 3-6 weeks.

Swap your foods for some extra herbs and spices
There are other ways to increase the flavour of foods, including adding extra herbs and spices such as chilli, lemon, coriander etc. There is no limit on how much of herbs and spices you can add if you are enjoying it.
Foods higher in salt
Reduce the total amount you consume overall; this includes take away foods such as pizzas and other restaurants. Try and prepare your own meals as often as possible.
Swap your Namkeen or biscuits with chai for some home-made popcorn flavoured with herbs and chilli or some nuts.

Easy swaps:
Canned food- Look out for ‘no added salt’ options. Make sure to rinse these foods well.
Sauce- Try and make your own whenever possible, if buying look for the ‘salt reduced’ options.

In summary:
• If you have a medical condition that requires a diet low in sodium or you have been advised to, continue with your recommendations
• If you usually eat more packaged and processed foods, keep an eye on how much sodium is present
• If you regularly consume higher salt foods, reduce the portion and frequency of these foods
• If you still need help or unsure about your specific recommendations, consult with your GP or Dietitian
Please note this advice is provided for the general population. Specific advice should be sought from your health care provider.


By Deevya Gupta is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian in Melbourne | W: www.abcofnutrition.com.au

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