Reduce salt

Aim to eat no more than 6g (one teaspoon) of salt per day

Aim to eat no more than 6g (one teaspoon) of salt per day

Too much salt (sodium) in the diet can contribute to high blood pressure which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Reducing a high salt intake can sometimes help to lower your blood pressure.

What does salt do?

  • It is the sodium in salt that is used by your body. Sodium is needed to ensure that your muscles and nerves work properly and it helps to maintain normal blood pressure.
  • Too much sodium in your diet can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

How much salt is safe?

  • It is recommended that adults should eat no more than 6g of salt a day: about a teaspoon.
  • The salt that you need is found naturally in many foods, so you can easily get this amount without adding it to your food.
  • The average salt intake in Scotland is nearly 9g per day.

Understanding salt labeling

Food labels can be confusing! Salt content can be listed as salt or as sodium. However, the amounts are not the same.

To be able to compare like for like you may have to convert sodium into salt.

  • Work out the amount of sodium per 100g
  • Multiply by 2.5
  • For example: 1g sodium / 100g x 2.5= 2.5g salt / 100g

You have to also remember that the content has to be worked out for the total amount of food you eat in one serving and not just in 100g.

  • For example: 1.3 grams of salt per 100g. If total serving = 300g then your intake will contain 1.3 x 3 = 4 grams of salt.

What is a high sodium / salt level?

It is quite surprising to see the difference between breakfast cereals or makes of bread, for example. Not all 'healthy options' are healthy in salt content. So remember to read the labels!

Salt content per 100g
  • Virtually salt free
  • 0.005g sodium or less
  • 0.0125g salt or less
  • Low salt
  • 0.1g sodium or less
  • 0.25g salt or less
  • Medium salt
  • 0.2 - 0.4g sodium
  • 0.5 - 1g salt
  • High salt
  • 0.5g sodium or more
  • 1.25g salt or more

How to reduce salt in your diet

  • Don't add salt at the table or during cooking. Instead try adding herbs and spices for flavour. In time your taste buds will adjust to the changes.
  • Try not to use salt alternatives as these can be high in other minerals, e.g. potassium.
  • Be aware that processed foods such as bread, meat products, vegetables, soups and sauces may contain a lot of salt.
  • Avoid bacon, sausages, ham, cheese, pizzas, sachet soups and stock cubes.
  • Avoid salted crisps, nuts, crackers or other salty snacks especially when socialising as they will also make you thirsty and encourage you to drink more alcohol.
  • Use other flavourings such as herbs and spices, lemon and garlic to add interest to your food.
  • Eat fresh foods as they have no added salt in them.
  • Look for products that declare themselves low-salt or reduced-salt.
  • Be aware that some foods can have an unexpectedly high-salt content such as cereals, mineral water and bread. Even some low-fat yoghurts and ice-cream can contain hidden salt. Check the labels!
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