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Is Hidden Salt Hurting Your Health?

Renee Mirabito

It's no secret that a high salt diet is bad for your health. What you probably don’t realize is just how much hidden salt is in the foods you are already eating.

We need a certain amount of salt for good nutrition. It helps regulate the amount of fluid in our body. However, most of us are getting way more salt than we need, which is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease, two of the biggest killers. Kidney problems, gastric cancers and stroke are also linked with a diet high in salt.

The ideal amount of salt in the diet is 1500 milligrams, but many of us consume eight or nine times more than this every day, which is leading to catastrophic health problems in later life. Most of this salt is hidden in places you would never expect it. Knowing how to spot hidden salt and eliminate it from your diet is a great step to better health.

Hidden Salt

The main candidate for these high levels of salt in our diet is processed food, providing an estimated 75% of the salt in our diet. Salt is a flavor enhancer. It makes pretty much anything taste good. High salt levels mean a better taste and in turn higher sales and profits for the manufacturer. Breakfast cereals, bread products and take-away food are some of the worst offenders for hidden salt.

The amount of salt in any processed food can be found on the nutrition label on the side or back of the pack. Look for the part of the table that lists quantities per 100 grams. The amount of sodium will be listed in milligrams. A food that is considered to be low in salt with contain less than 120 milligrams of sodium per 100 grams. A high salt food will have 500 milligrams or more of sodium per 100 grams. After checking your favorite foods you may be unpleasantly surprised.

How To Pass on the Salt

A low salt diet can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 25% according to a longitudinal study conducted by researchers from the Harvard Medical School.

Being able to identify the hidden salt in your diet is the first step in eliminating it. Many items on your grocery list can be easily exchanged for lower salt alternatives without compromising on taste. Spend more time in the supermarket looking at different products and their sodium content. You will be able to find low salt cereals, breads, muesli bars and other products that taste just as great as their competitors.

Not adding salt to foods during cooking, and not having a salt shaker on the table, are also recommended by nutritionists. Instead, boost the flavor of foods with herbs and spices.

Avoiding take-away food whenever possible can also reduce your salt intake. Many of these foods are high in salt and also include the flavour enhancer MSG. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables in placed of canned will also reduce salt intake, as salt is added during the preservation process.


Please also see: Himalayan Crystal Salt as a healthier alternative to traditional table salt.

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