Salt is 40 per cent sodium and 60 per cent chlorine.
We need it to maintain the fluid balance in our bodies and to help our muscles and nerves work. However, too much can lead to hypertension, osteoporosis, and kidney and heart disease.
A suggested daily limit of 1600mg of sodium, or just 4g of salt, means the average Aussie needs to halve their intake.
A snack tub of mac and cheese can slog you with 1200mg of sodium. That chicken noodle cup the kids eat has 1400mg of sodium. That’s more than an adult’s daily allowance in a single meal. Packet foods may be quick and easy, but they’re putting you on the fast train to some serious health problems. Try preparing fresh pasta or noodles in advance to keep in the fridge.
Freezing food can result in a loss of flavour, so extra salt is used to add taste. A 400g frozen lasagne can contain up to 1300mg of sodium, and a beef stroganoff has almost 800mg. Read nutritional labels carefully. Just because it’s low in calories or marketed as ‘lite’ doesn’t mean it’s not high in salt.
Cured and processed meat has a stack of added salt. A tiny 25g serve of pre-packaged leg ham contains 275mg of sodium, and just one hotdog has 693mg! Eat fresh and lean cuts of meat, chicken and fish, and use spices and herbs for flavour.
The whole reason canned food was invented was to have a long shelf life, and salt is a great preservative. Both a 220g can of spaghetti in sauce, and a can of pea and ham soup, contain around 700mg of sodium. Look for salt-reduced products and eat fresh whenever possible.
Vegetable juices are more popular than ever, but salt is often added to pre-packaged products to improve flavour and extend the use-by date. Just one cup of vegetable juice can have as much as 600mg of sodium. Make your own juices or choose fresh juice from the refrigerated section of the supermarket.