Tips for reducing your salt intake

We need a certain amount of salt to live, but most of us eat much more salt than our bodies need. This can be a cause of high blood pressure. Research has shown that reducing your daily salt intake by a few grams can lower your blood pressure.

Generally speaking, processed foods are particularly high in salt. Examples of processed foods include convenience foods, chips and salty snacks, canned fish, cured and smoked meats, and many types of cheese. Fresh and unprocessed foods, on the other hand, are low in salt. They include things like fresh fish, meat and many dairy products such as yoghurt. Most fruits and vegetables are very low in salt – for example, there is only 1 gram of salt in 13 kilograms (about 29 pounds) of tomatoes.

If you would like to reduce your salt intake, it is important to have a general idea of how much salt there is in various foods. The following list can help.

For example, the following foods contain 1 gram of salt:

• 1 portion of cheese spread (30 grams)
• 2 slices of (semi-)hard cheese (60 grams)
• 1 big pot of yoghurt (500 grams and half a liter of milk

• 1 slice of salami (30 grams)
• 1 slice of cooked ham (40 grams)
• 1 portion of meat spread/pâté (40 grams)
• 500 grams of fresh chicken, beef or pork

• 25 grams of pickled herring
• 1 can of tuna (150 grams)
• 300 to 500 grams of fresh fish

• 25 grams of salted nuts
• 100 grams of potato chips
• 750 grams of fresh carrots
• 600 grams of fresh celery

Pasta, rice and other foods made from cereals are also very low in salt, but this is not true of processed food products like cornflakes.

It is not easy to make long-term changes to your eating habits – after all, eating is one of life’s pleasures. But low-salt food does not necessarily have to be bland. You could try seasoning it with fresh or dried herbs to make it tastier. It might also help to reduce the amount of salt you use gradually, rather than from one day to the next. That makes it easier to get used to the natural flavors.

Snacks that are typically eaten when watching TV – like pretzel sticks, salted nuts or chips – are particularly high in salt. Plus, they are high in calories. Things like carrot, celery and pepper sticks with dips made from yoghurt or sour cream could be an alternative. Fresh fruit skewers offer another low-salt alternative to salty snacks.

Labels: Aging and geriatric care, E86, E87, Heart and circulation, High blood pressure, Hypertension, I10, I11