07 June 2022
Salt: The Forgotten Killer
Excess salt in the diet is a major international health issue. In fact, for every 1g of salt we cut from our diet, we could prevent 4,147 fewer premature deaths and save the NHS £288 million every year. We need to take responsibility for our health, and an obvious place to start is with how much salt we consume.
But why is salt such a danger to our health? Well, it all comes down hypertension (high blood pressure). Hypertension affects 1 billion (1 in 4) people globally and is one of the #1 risk factors for death. In England alone, high blood pressure is associated with at least half of all heart attacks and strokes.
So, what is hypertension?
Your heart pumps blood all around your body. Blood pressure is a measure of how much pressure your blood exerts on the walls of your arteries. If this pressure is too high, it puts a strain on both your arteries and your heart. Untreated or uncontrolled high blood pressure greatly increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
High blood pressure is often referred to as the ‘silent killer’ as it very rarely causes any symptoms, and therefore frequently goes undiagnosed.
In England, for every 10 people who are diagnosed with hypertension, a further 7 people remain undiagnosed and untreated. It is essential that blood pressure is measured regularly, to ensure raised levels are picked up.
The good news? Simple steps can help you avoid or reduce high blood pressure.
Salt is our biggest source of sodium
High levels of sodium in your bloodstream pull water into your blood vessels, increasing the total amount (volume) of blood inside them. With more blood flowing through your blood vessels, blood pressure increases.
While some sodium is essential for the body to function, the problem is, as a nation we eat way too much – a lot of salt is hidden in ready-prepared food we buy.
So it stands to reason that reducing your salt intake reduces the risk of hypertension and with it, the risk of heart attack and stroke.
How much salt should be eating?
Maximum recommended salt intakes can vary globally, but in the UK, government guidance is that adults should eat no more than 6g salt per day (around 1 teaspoon). Worryingly, current data shows that we eat on average 8.4g salt per day – 40% more than the maximum recommended amount.
Top tips on reducing dietary sodium
Making small changes now, can all add up and ensure a healthier life, both now and in the future. Afterall, prevention is better than cure!
Some simple changes that can be made every day, that will reduce your salt intake, include:
- Keeping processed meats to minimum. Bacon, ham, salami etc are all high in salt. Many pickles and sauces are also high in salt.
- Read food labels – look for lower in salt options.
- Don’t be duped into thinking ‘posh’ gourmet sea and rock salts are better for you – they all contain exactly the same amount of sodium as regular table salt.
- Try seasoning with herbs, lemon juice and spices, rather than salt.
- If you are adding salt, learn to ‘season with sense’ by switching to a reduced sodium alternative (such LoSalt®), when cooking, baking or seasoning (both in and out of the home).
- Monitor your blood pressure regularly – if you’re over 40 and aren’t having your blood pressure monitored through your GP practice, your pharmacist can check it for you every 5 years, and advise on next best steps.
For further information on how LoSalt® can help reduce your sodium intake, and for low-sodium recipe inspiration, visit https://uk.losalt.com/cooking-with-losalt/