Salt is vital to our diets, in nature sodium and chloride are found together to make our favourite table condiment “Sodium Chloride” or Salt. Excellent at enhancing the flavour of our foods, it also plays an essential role in maintaining water balance in the body for muscle & nerve function.
Specific physiological reactions and illness including excessive sweating, burns, severe vomiting and diarrhoea and kidney damage can lead to a loss of salt in the body which should be quickly replaced as low levels of salt in the body can lead to dizziness, muscle cramps and exhaustion and if not treated may lead to life-threatening shock.
Salt, however, is generally not a problem, it’s in many foods especially processed meats, snacks and fast food. High levels of salt contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease.
Check the label
It’s important to check the label for sodium chloride, as a general rule if it’s not in a packet, including foods such as fruits & vegetables then salt will not be a problem.
Look at the figure for salt per 100g:
- High is more than 1.5g salt per 100g (0.6g sodium)
- Low is 0.3g salt or less per 100g (or 0.1g sodium)
Some of the worst for high levels of salt include; bacon, smoked salmon, tomato ketchup, brown sauce, prawns, feta cheese and snacks such as Twiglets.
In affluent countries, the consumption of salt is very easy and normally always excessive to our body requirements. An obvious way of reducing consumption might be to cut out table salt however as most salt is found in the foods we eat it’s much better to concentrate on healthy meals, less processed meats and packaged snacks.
Adults should not consume more than 6g of salt per day (about one full teaspoon)
below is a photo showing what 6g of salt looks like.
So remember, next time you’re shopping, check the label and look for Sodium Chloride!