Salt (sodium chloride) is a crystal-like compound found in nature in land-based deposits, mineral-rich spring water and sea water and is used to flavour and preserve food. Sodium is one of the chemical elements in salt.
Salt is the main source of sodium for most people, but some common food additives – like monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium nitrite, and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) – also contain sodium and contribute to the total amount of “sodium” listed on the Nutrition Facts Label.
31 JANUARY 2013 | World Health Organisation GENEVA - Adults should consume less than 2,000mg of sodium, or 5 grams of salt (approx 1 teaspoon), and at least 3,510mg of potassium per day, according to new guidelines issued by the WHO. A person with either elevated sodium levels and low potassium levels could be at risk of raised blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
SALT AND OUR BODY
A small amount of sodium is needed to help our bodies work properly. But most people eat too much of it – and they may not even know it! That’s because many packaged foods have a high amount of sodium, even when they don’t taste ‘salty’. Plus, when you add salt to food, you’re adding more sodium.
Sodium attracts water and a high sodium diet draws water into the bloodstream, which increases the volume of blood, which over time can increase blood pressure. High blood pressure forces the heart to work harder and can damage blood vessels and organs.
A high salt diet can contribute to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, kidney disease, renal stones and obesity.
Salt increases the risk of developing diabetes by increasing blood pressure. Salt reduction is recommended for people with diabetes because keeping blood pressure in the healthy range helps to reduce the risk of the long term complications associated with diabetes.
Salt and Sodium
Salt is made up of 40 percent sodium and 60 percent chloride.
Because the majority of sodium in our diet comes from salt, people often use the term salt instead of sodium. However, it is the sodium within the salt that is bad for your health. It is also important to remember that the amount of sodium and salt within a food is not the same. For example, 1 gram of sodium is equal to 2.5 grams of salt.
- To convert sodium to salt multiply by 2.5
- To convert salt to sodium multiply by 0.4
The New Zealand Ministry of Health recommends a suggested dietary target of 1,600 milligrams per day of sodium (equivalent to 4 grams of salt) and an upper level of intake of 2,300 milligrams per day of sodium (equivalent to 6 grams of salt) for older children and adult New Zealanders. Children need less depending on their age. The suggested dietary target is recommended for those wishing to maintain a low blood pressure over their lifetime. The upper level of intake is the highest daily amount of sodium in the diet that is likely to pose no adverse health effects.
Both the suggested dietary target and upper level of intake are much higher than the amount of sodium required for basic health requirements; this is referred to as an adequate intake.
|(milligrams sodium per day)|
|Infants||0 - 6 months||120||-||-|
|7 - 12 months||170||-||-|
|Children and adolescents||1 - 3 years||200 - 400||1,000||-|
|4 - 8 years||300 - 600||1,400||-|
|9 - 13 years||400 - 800||2,000||-|
|14 - 18 years||460 - 920||2,300||1,600|
|Adults||19+ years||460 - 920||2,300||1,600|
|Pregnancy||14+ years||460 - 920||2,300||-|
SALT IN FOOD
Surprisingly, some foods that don’t taste salty can still be high in sodium, so don’t use taste as a guide. For example, some foods that are high in sodium taste salty – like pickles or soy sauce. But there are also many foods – like cereals and pastries – that contain sodium but don’t taste salty. In addition, some foods that you eat several times a day, such as breads, add up to a lot of sodium even though each serving may not be high in sodium. USA Food and Drug Administration
Sodium is found naturally in a variety of foods, including milk and cream (approximately 50mg of sodium per 100g) and eggs (approximately 80mg/100g). It is also found, in much higher amounts, in processed foods, such as bread (approximately 250mg/100g), processed meats like bacon (approximately 1,500mg/100g), snack foods such as pretzels, cheese puffs and popcorn (approximately 1,500mg/100g), as well as in condiments such as soy sauce (approximately 7,000mg/100g), and bouillon or stock cubes (approximately 20,000mg/100g).
Potassium-rich foods include: beans and peas (approximately 1,300mg of potassium per 100g), nuts (approximately 600mg/100g), vegetables such as spinach, cabbage and parsley (approximately 550mg/100g) and fruits such as bananas, papayas and dates (approximately 300mg/100g). Processing reduces the amount of potassium in many food products.
Reducing salt intakeLimit processed meats (ham, bacon, sausages, luncheon), smoked foods, and foods in brine (salty water). They’re generally very high in salt. Tomato sauces, chutneys, marinades, instant noodles and soy sauces are also high in sodium. Products vary a lot from brand to brand, so check the Nutrition Information Panel. NZ Stroke Foundation
- Use no more than a pinch of salt (iodised) in cooking
- Avoid adding salt to food at the table
- Avoid foods high in salt such as:
- Ham, bacon, sausages, corned beef, smoked fish
- Salted chips, crisps, salted nuts
- Instant noodles and soups, stock cubes, salty crackers
- Salty sauces and pickles
- Most takeaway foods
To help keep your salt intake down, buy fresh foods and make home prepared meals. Use fresh herbs, spices, flavoured vinegars and lemon juice for extra flavour. Kidney Health NZ
Your doctor can refer you to a dietitian for help with reducing your salt intake.
There are three basic types of salt most of us can buy – standard refined table salt, unrefined sea salt and rock salt – within these three categories there are numerous variations in source and additional mineral content.
What kind of salt
Unrefined gourmet salts have been gaining popularity, whether mined from the earth or harvested from the sea. Whether refined salt or other gourmet salts, they all have the same impact and need to be limited. And don’t forget iodised salt.
Although only required in very small amounts, iodine is an essential nutrient. As in many other countries around the world, evidence of iodine deficiency has been observed in New Zealand and in the late 1800s and early 1900s goitre, a medical thyroid condition, was very common. In order to decrease the incidence, iodine was added to table salt.
Iodine - NZ Ministry of Health
Recent evidence from a number of studies has indicated that the iodine status of New Zealanders is now declining to the point where intervention is again required to ensure that iodine deficiency disorders do not once again widely affect the New Zealand population. These studies have provided the evidence for the decision to add iodised salt to commercially prepared bread from September 2009.
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