The human body needs sodium chloride, commonly known as salt. This vital substance helpts to control the body's fluid balance and the way muscles and nerves work. The body is generally very efficient in regulating the amount of sodium. If we eat too much salt, we become thirsty. This encourages us to drink fluids, which speeds up excretion of sodium through the kidneys.
High salt intake has been linked to a number of health problems including high blood pressure (hypertension) and osteoporosis. There is now reasonably strong evidence to suggest that people with high blood pressure benefit from a diet containing less salt, thus reducing the incidence of stroke. In fact, most people would benefit from reducing salt intake to a healthy level.
Some people, including the very young and people with kidney disease, are unable to excrete sodium efficiently and regulate body fluid. For example, elderly people's kidneys become less efficient, meaning they need to monitor their salt intake carefully.
Waitrose and most UK retailers support the voluntarily agreed Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) for salt, which is 6g a day for adults. National Diet Surveys have shown the UK diet contains too much salt, with the average adult consuming 8.6g a day.
The Government recommends that this is reduced to no more than 6g a day for adults, and less for children:
Children 11 and over, 6g per day
Children 7-10 years, 5g per day
Children 4-6 years, 3g per day
Children 1-3 years, 2g per day
Infants should not be given salt because their kidneys are not fully matured until they are one year old.
Occasionally the GDA might not apply. For example, during exercise salt is lost from the body through sweating, and muscle cramps may result if it's not replaced.
All Waitrose own brand products are labelled with the sodium amount per 100g and per serving. Our products also carry the GDA for salt, plus the amount per serving, so you can see at a glance the amount of salt the food contains and how much it contributes to your daily intake. To calculate the amount of salt from sodium, simply multiply the sodium content by 2.5. Eg, if the food has a sodium level of 0.2g per serving, the amount of salt will be 0.2 x 2.5, which is equal to 0.5g salt per serving.
Foods containing 0.3g salt or less per 100g are considered low salt. High salt foods contain 1.5g salt or more per 100g. There is no need to avoid all high salt foods if you plan your diet well and do not exceed the GDA of 6g a day.
- Don't add salt to water for cooking vegetables.
- Use herbs and spices, lemon and lime juice to flavour foods.
- Choose stronger flavoured cheese for cooking (you can use less but still have all the flavour).
- Use fresh stock not stock cubes.
- Don't put salt on the table as your taste buds will adapt to less salty food within a month.
- Salt replacers such as Lo Salt or SOLO can help with a lower salt diet but if you have a kidney condition consult your doctor first.
- Snack on fruit and unsalted nuts.
- Choose products, such as crisps, with lower salt or no added salt.
- Eat cured meats only occasionally.
Waitrose has an ongoing programme for salt reduction, which means we're doing lots of work to help you eat less salt, and to help the Government with this public health initiative. The majority of our products already meet salt reduction targets set for 2010. Visit www.salt.gov.uk (this link opens a new window) for more information.
Food Standards Agency
www.salt.gov.uk (this link opens a new window)
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