The theme for this year’s National Salt Awareness Week is ‘Salt and men’s health’. Research shows that men eat more salt than women and on average have a higher blood pressure than women, particularly at a younger age. Men are also less likely to have their blood pressure checked or to take action to reduce it when it is raised.
Salt puts up our blood pressure, and raised blood pressure (hypertension) is the major factor in strokes, heart failure and heart attacks, the leading causes of death and disability in the UK. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, but if you have it, you are more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke.
Decreasing your average salt intake will reduce incidences of cardiovascular disease which will save thousands of lives every year. There is also increasing evidence of a link between our current high salt intake and stomach cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and kidney disease.
Dr Carolyn Harper, Director of Public Health, PHA, said: “The PHA encourages all consumers to take an active approach to reducing their salt intake, by checking product labels and preparing more of their food at home. 75% of the salt we eat is already in the food we buy, so by reading product labels to determine whether a product is high or low in salt, we can significantly reduce our salt intake and improve our health.
“Often the information on food labels lists sodium, rather than salt content. To work out how much salt is in the food, simply multiply by 2.5; so, for example, if the label on baked beans shows that they contain 0.4g sodium per half tin, this means that half a tin of the beans provides 1g of salt.
“Even though salt is an essential part of our diet, it is important that it is consumed in moderation. Adults should eat no more than 6g of salt a day, and children even less. Reducing the UK’s average daily salt intake for adults to 6g could prevent about 17,500 deaths from heart attacks and strokes a year.”
One easy way to eat less salt is to stop adding extra salt to your food during cooking and at the dinner table. If you regularly add salt to food when cooking, try adding less or using herbs, spices, chilli, pepper and lemon to add flavour instead of salt. When you sit down to eat, taste your food first to see if it needs salt.
For further information on National Salt Awareness Week 2011 visit http://www.actiononsalt.org.uk/
Also contact the PHA press office on 028 9031 1611.