The Public Health Agency (PHA) is encouraging people to discover the benefits of reducing salt in their diet during National Salt Awareness Week.
The theme for this year’s awareness week (10-16 March) is “Switch the Salt” and highlights how eating less salt can lower blood pressure, a condition that can often lead to serious health problems.
Angela McComb, Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Manager at the PHA, explained: “Salt is an essential part of our diet, however, eating too much can increase blood pressure – also known as hypertension – and increase the risk of stroke, heart failure and heart attack, some of the leading causes of disability and death in Northern Ireland. Hypertension often has no symptoms, but if you have it, you are more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke.”
Moderation is the key. We can all take greater control over our salt intake by simply using less salt during cooking and at the table. It’s important to remember to taste food at the table before adding salt, rather than doing this automatically. Reducing the amount of salt we use in cooking doesn’t necessarily mean less flavoursome meals – try to replace salt with alternative flavourings such as pepper, lemon juice, herbs and spices.
Angela continued: “The PHA encourages consumers to take an active approach to reducing their salt intake by checking product labels and preparing more of their food at home. Seventy-five per cent of the salt we eat is already in the food we eat, so by reading product labels before we buy, we can choose the products that are lower in salt and benefit our health.
“Often the information on food labels shows the amount of sodium it contains, rather than salt. To work out how much salt is in the food, simply multiply the figure by 2.5. 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.
“Adults should eat no more than six grams of salt a day, and children even less. Reducing Northern Ireland’s average daily salt intake for adults to 6g could reduce the number of deaths from heart attacks and strokes every year.
“By following these simple suggestions, you will be taking the first steps towards improving your overall health.”
The PHA’s ‘Choose to Live Better’ website has further advice and tips on eating well and getting active: www.choosetolivebetter.com
For further information on National Salt Awareness Week 2014 visit: www.actionsalt.org.uk