That’s around 1 teaspoon. And while your body does need some salt to function, its only around 1-2g and you can easily get this from fresh food like fruit and vegetables. That’s not to say that you should aim to have 5g of salt a day, the mantra is – less is best. And given the difference in size, if an adult should not exceed 5g of salt a day, a child should be having much less. And babies under a year-old need less again, as their kidneys can’t cope with all the extra salt.
Remember, too much of it could put you at risk of heart attack and stroke, and eating too much salt is unhealthy for both children and adults. Children who have higher levels of salt can develop higher blood pressure and this can continue into adulthood, where it increases their risk of heart attack and stroke too.
While a small amount of salt (about 1g) is important for good health this amount can be easily obtained by eating a healthy balanced diet made of mostly fresh foods, including 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables daily. The problem is, most Australians are consuming up to 8 times this amount, and it’s not because they are eating a trailer load of celery! So how can you cut the salt from your family’s diet?
The simplest way to work out how much salt you’re eating is to check the food label, in particular the Nutrition Information Panel (NIP) and ingredients list on the package.
When you’re looking at the Nutrition Information Panel there are a few things that can help you decode the information.
When you’re looking at how much salt is in your packaged food, the best place to check is the per 100g column on the NIP. This can help you compare two products against each other – all you have to do is pick the one with less salt! What should you look for? To avoid eating excess salt in your day, try to avoid products with more than 400mg of sodium per 100g. The best options are products with less than 120mg sodium per 100g.
Best Options: Up to 120mg sodium per 100g/ml
OK Options: Up to 400mg sodium per 100g/ml
Reconsider: More than 400mg sodium per 100g/100ml
Download our handy PDF tool below to reference your best options at the supermarket.
To convert sodium to salt, multiply the sodium figure in milligrams (mg) by 2.5 and then divide by 1000. For example:
What is the salt content of 200mg of sodium?
200mg x 2.5 = 500mg of salt
500mg/1000 = 0.5g of salt.
So, 200mg of sodium equals 500 mgs or 0.5g of salt. It might seem small, but with a recommended daily intake no higher than 5g per day you can see how it can add up quite quickly.
No Salt, Low Salt and Salt Reduced
Some food manufacturers have already started reducing salts in their foods. In these cases you may see on the label ‘No Salt’, ‘Low Salt’, or ‘Reduced Salt’ advertised. What do these phrases on the front of the packaging really mean? Click on the diagram with different Sodium and Salt levels to read what each level might mean in terms of salt content.
Food has to have 25% less sodium than in the same amount of a comparative reference food. Eg. ‘Low Salt Tomato Sauce’ has 25% less sodium when compared to a standard tomato sauce.
Solid food must have less than 120mg of sodium (0.3g salt) per 100g. Liquid food must have less than 120mg of sodium (0.3g per salt) per 100ml.
Food and it ingredients has to contain no added sodium including no added salt during processing. Be aware – the product may still contain naturally occurring sodium.
If you can’t buy fresh vegetables, frozen is your next best bet. No salt is used in the freezing process. Some tinned vegetables contain added salt in the water, called brine. If you do choose tinned, make sure you drain and rinse them well under water before use to remove excess salt.
Banish the salt shaker from your family’s table. Taste your food before you season it, and if it does need a little something extra try adding some pepper or fresh herbs instead.
Load your trolley up with as much fruit and veg as you can. They are naturally low in salt and packed full of nutrients.