Last week, 8th to the 14th March 2021, was National Salt Awareness Week, It is organised by Action on Salt, part of CASSH. CASSH is a charity aimed at supporting reductions in the population's salt and sugar intake.
It is recommended the maximum daily intake of salt to be 6 grams per day, however, adults in the UK consume over 8 grams. The mission of Action on Salt is to work with the government and food industry supporting them with gradually reducing the UK salt intake to below the recommended maximum level.
Why is salt reduction important? Well, high salt intake contributes to hypertension, high blood pressure, which the World Health Organisation estimate affects 1.13 billion people worldwide. Hypertension increases our risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Hypertension is one of the most treatable causes of premature morbidity and mortality globally.
What is CASSH doing? CASSH does research to strengthen the evidence to provide to key stakeholders and create policy change, it does media publicity and public awareness campaigns, in addition to encouraging the industry to reformulate products. Reformulation of products is important, as an estimated 75% this salt is already added in food by the food industry.
So far, CASSHs key achievements include achieving a 10% reduction in the UK salt intake, saving an estimated 6000 lives each year.
Now, we do need salt, it is an essential nutrient for healthy blood pressure, nerve, and muscle function, BUT as explained about, in excess amounts, which on average most people do consume above the recommendations, it contributes to hypertension. So, what can we do?
Try using different products, instead of salt, to add flavour to our meals, for example, herbs and spices.
When possible, choose unsalted alternatives, or products low in salt. A guide to the traffic light labels you see on the front of packs is: -
Green “low” = <0.30g/ 100g
Amber “medium” = 0.30-1.50g/ 100g
Red “high” = >1.50g/100g OR >1.80g/ portion
And to finish with a #mythbusting rock salt and sea salt are both just as high in sodium chloride (salt!) and so both contribute to high blood pressure in excess amounts – one is not “healthier” than another.
Action on Salt. Available at: http://www.actiononsalt.org.uk/
British Heart Foundation. Salt. Available at: https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/support/healthy-living/healthy-eating/salt?gclid=Cj0KCQiAnKeCBhDPARIsAFDTLTKt3EkrlRzCBNgTnTI9qWvA-AVgVld2D151MCs5bCQY1Bx5TK0Qav4aAkmSEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds
Food Standards Agency. Salt. Available at: https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/salt
National Health Service. Salt: The Facts. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/salt-nutrition/