Tips to help reduce your salt intake

Our nutritionist says: “when I talk to patients about reducing their salt intake, the most common response I get is ‘…But I never add salt to my food!'”  But did you know that approximately 75% of the salt in our diet is hidden in the processed/ packaged foods that we eat. Follow these tips to reduce your salt intake:

  1. Eat mostly fresh, unprocessed foods, as these are naturally low in salt! Include a wide variety of vegetables, fresh fruit, fish, poultry, lean meats, eggs,  milk, plain unsalted nuts and dried peas, beans and lentils
  1. When eating processed/packaged foods, read the labels carefully, choosing items that are lower in salt – salt is referred to as sodium on nutrition panels:
  • Products with less than 120mg of sodium per 100g are the best (note – this may be difficult to achieve for certain foods such as bread, in this case aim for 400mg or less per 100g)
  • If salt is listed as one o the first ingredients on the label, it will be a high salt product
  • When available choose low salt or “no added salt” varieties of pre-packaged foods. (Tip: “Salt reduced” only means that the product has less salt than the original product, it doesn’t necessarily mean the product is low in salt!)
  1. Limit your intake of high salt foods, such as processed/ deli meats (eg salami, bacon, sausages), vegemite, bottles sauces (e.g. soy sauce) and other high salt tinned products, pickles, salted nuts, potato crisps and other salty snack foods such as crackers and crisp breads
  1. At home, try flavouring your cooking with other flavours, rather than reaching for the salt: Use herbs (see ‘herb shaker’ recipe) and spices, garlic, onions, olive oil, lemon juice, ginger, and low salt tomato paste. Marinate meats to enhance the flavour using these ingredients.
  1. Watch out for sneaky salt under different names: e.g. sea salt, rock salt, garlic salt, celery salt, herb salt, chicken salt and onion salt. These all contain salt!
  1. Put the salt shaker away – don’t add salt to your meals
  1. Persistence is the Key! It takes your taste buds at least 3-4 weeks to adjust to eating less salt – so stick with it and soon enough you’ll enjoy the natural delicious flavours of the unsalted foods. It may help to start cutting back gradually on the amount of salt you use.

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