Lay off the salt, your heart will thank you for it!

Have you ever thought about the amount of salt you consume each day? Perhaps you are one of many that think they don’t eat much salt at all. You don’t add it to your cooking, you don’t sprinkle it over your dinner at night, so you must be doing ok…right?

Did you know that the average Australian is eating nearly twice the recommended amount of salt every day? The recommendation for adults is to consume no more than 5g of salt, or 2000mg of sodium each day. This equates to roughly one teaspoon of salt.

So, if you are not adding salt to your food, how are we still consuming nearly twice the recommended amount of salt each day? The problem is processed foods.

When we eat whole foods; things like fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds, we naturally consume less sodium. Many processed foods are loaded with sodium to add flavour, stop microbial growth (yuk!), and mask less than appetising flavours produced during processing.

So why is salt intake so important for your heart health? Excessive salt intake is a huge factor in raising blood pressure. Increased blood pressure means more pressure on the arteries and valves in your heart which in turn can lead to long term damage to the heart. Not to mention that increased blood pressure has negative effects on your entire body and will leave you feeling pretty unwell if left untreated. You might start to experience fluid retention, kidney problems, osteoporosis or even increase your risk of having a stroke!

But my salt is the healthy salt! Sorry, the healthier, more superior salt does not exist. Sure, that pink Himalayan salt looks pretty in the salt grinder, but that’s about where the benefits end. According to the Heart Foundation, the small amount of minerals that are present in Himalayan salt are better consumed, and more abundant, in fresh fruits and vegetables.

Now, how can we all get back to consuming the recommended teaspoon of salt each day? Let’s have a look at some of the ways we can still enjoy yummy food, just with less salt!

  • Use herbs and spices to add flavour to dishes
  • Try and pick up low or no added salt varieties of your favourite condiments
  • Start reading the labels of the food you buy, and aim for a sodium content of less than 400mg per 100g. Check out this Heart Foundation article for more information on reading food labels Reading food labels | Heart Foundation
  • Cut back on takeaway and pre-packaged foods so you are in control of the ingredients!

It might sound scary, but our body has become so used to consuming salt, that we can barely taste any of the real flavour in our food! Once you reduce your sodium intake, you will rediscover the real flavours in the food you love and won’t miss the added salt at all.

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