Foodfacts.com observes that salt is becoming a bit of a food baddie. That’s not a true representation of it from a health point of view – we need salt to keep our muscles and nerves working and it does a myriad of other good things in our body. However, too much can store up health problems for later. One of the problems is that most of us don’t actually know how much salt we take in everyday so it can be hard to cut down.
How much do you need?
– The ideal intake of salt a day is 3g – the daily recommended salt intake is 6g. Aim to take in 3g, and the hidden salts in everyday foods will make up the rest. Many of us eat up to 16g of salt a day without even noticing so you need to be careful what you eat.
– Salt has been linked with increased blood pressure (which can lead to strokes), and increased weight gain and bloating (salt makes the body hold on to water to dilute the salt). Eating less salt can help to reduce asthma attacks, prevent stomach cancer and help to prevent osteoporosis.
How to measure how much salt you eat
– Take a look at the convenience and prepared foods you eat – take the total salt content (you will find it on the label at the back or printed on the side of the box) and divide it among the number of portions.
– In a Chicken Tikka for 2 people, you may find 8g of salt. That delivers 4g for each person, 1g more than the ideal daily allowance. Now think of what else you will eat in the day: that bacon sandwich where the bacon has been soaked in salt water to pump up the weight; that chicken panini that has been salted to add flavor to an otherwise flavorless meat; the bagel you ate that contains salt to make up for the lack of butter, or the butter you used on your toast that is highly salted.
– Tinned foods, crisps, prepared meats including that lovely roast, all ready to go, in the freezer department at the supermarket – they all have one thing in common – they all contain salt and it is hard to quantify your cumulative intake in any one day.
How to cut down your salt intake
– It’s hard but simple at the same time! Limit the amount of convenience or prepared foods that you eat. When you eat them, don’t put salt in the other food you eat. Forego those quick treats like breakfast bars, crisps, a quick McDonalds and any food that you can’t see what amount of salt is in it.
– Look at the information label on prepared foods. Put back any that have a high salt content, and choose something else. Then whatever you buy, share it with the number of people stated on the box: if it’s a meal for two, then give your flatmate half or eat it over two days! If that’s not possible, throw the other half of the pack away (this is a criminal thing to do, but if you really want that particular meal, then it’s better to throw it away, than for you to eat it all and store up a health problem – that costs more in the long run).
– Use a salt like Maldon Sea Salt, that has a stronger flavor, so you use less.
– Grating parmesan over a meal will add a salty flavor without the need to add salt.
– If you are using a stock cube, try Kallo stock cubes or Marigold Bouillon granules (both available in low-salt versions) – ask at your local health food shops. (Pictures to help you with identifying these products only – these are not paid-for ads).
– Don’t add any more salt to a dish using a stock cube, until you have tasted it.
– Leave the salt cellar off the table, and only bring it out if someone actually asks for it. We all have the habit of salting our food, when in fact, we should trust that the cook has seasoned it properly.
– If you have a salt craving, add a little anchovy to a salad dressing and blend, instead of adding salt. Or squeeze lemon juice into the dressing to heighten the taste, and to remove the need to add more salt.
– Pancetta, used in small dice, can add enough saltiness to a dish, say pasta, or a ceaser’s salad, to make you feel as if it is salty, without adding a pinch or two.
Did you know:
– When you see the term “Sodium” on a label on a pack, multiply it by 2.5 to give you the salt content. Food companies are effectively making products look like they have less salt, by using the term “sodium”.
– A pinch of salt is 1g when you see it in a recipe. Put a pinch in the vegetables, a pinch in the meat and a pinch or two in the potatoes, and you have 3g of salt, divided by the number of people eating that meal.
The good stuff about salt
– Food without salt is not really food at all. We’re not saying not to use it, but just to be judicious about where and when you eat it. Isn’t it better to make a lovely dinner from scratch, and put salt in then, or lovingly brine a good quality free-range chicken with Maldon salt, than to have eaten up your daily requirement in less attractive meals?
– Salt has lots of other uses outside cooking: it is used for de-icing roads, saving countries billions by reducing absenteeism, lateness and production losses and delayed goods shipments due to bad weather. The chemical industry is one of the biggest users of salt and it is also used in feedstock supplements, in water softeners and for cloud seeding.
Source: Sooper Articles