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The forgotten killer that is lurking in your kitchen cupboard

March 17 2017

Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) is organising the 18th National Salt Awareness Week (20-26 March 2017) with this year’s theme being ‘Salt: The Forgotten Killer’.

CASH, a charity, is concerned with the health effects of excessive salt consumption. It believes that not many people realise that a high salt intake raises our blood pressure, which increases our risk of heart attacks and stroke.

Salty diets can also cause a number of other serious health conditions including kidney disease, osteoporosis and stomach cancer.

CASH suggests that most of us are at risk with the majority of the population eating too much salt. The Department of Health estimates that reducing salt intakes by just 1g – a pinch of salt – would prevent over 4,000 deaths and save £288 million to the NHS every year. The problem is that salt is hidden in pretty much everything we eat.

CASH will be calling on the food industry to continue with their reformulation efforts to meet the 2017 salt reduction targets, the government to take more action and encouraging all of use to make changes to our eating habits.

What should people look out for when shopping, when it comes to hidden salt?

  • Unfortunately, most people don’t realise that they’re eating too much salt. This is because 75 per cent of the salt we eat is already added to the food we buy, so we can’t take it out. That’s why it’s important not to add salt to food during cooking or at the table and instead use alternative seasoning like pepper, herbs, spices and lemon juice.
  • Foods that are often high in salt include things like cheese, processed meats (sausages, burgers, salami), bacon, ham, olives, pickles, smoked meat and fish, gravies, stock cubes, soy sauce, salted snacks (e.g. crisps) and salted nuts. It’s better to limit these foods and only eat them occasionally.
  • Salt isn’t just found in salty tasting foods like soup and sauces – it’s also found in foods like bread and breakfast cereals and can be hidden in foods that you wouldn’t expect to find it in, like biscuits.
  • When looking at food labels check the nutrition information. Avoid products that have a red colour for salt on the front of pack and go for more ambers and greens.
  • Shop around and compare different brands as there can be huge variation in salt content between the and the various flavours of the same product.
  • Avoid products that say ‘in brine’, or ‘in salted water’ and swap for ones in plain water with no added salt. Go for fresh, plain meat rather than processed meat and opt for reduced salt versions of soup, baked beans and sauces where possible.

The FoodSwitch app can help identify healthier alternatives so that you can swap to a lower salt choice with the SaltSwitch filter. For more information on salt consumption visit the CASH website.