Accredited practicing dietitian, Simone Austin shares her tips to reduce the salt in your diet, and which foods you’re eating actually have a lot of it.

While we need small amounts of salt to keep healthy, Australians are getting double to quadruple the amount of sodium they need each day.

Too much salt is linked to hypertension, which puts pressure on our arteries and makes them work harder to pump blood around our bodies.

Foods with a higher salt content include processed meats (like ham and salami), cheese, crackers and takeaway foods.

But it’s also hidden in foods that we might not initially suspect.

#1 Bread

#2 Breakfast cereals

#3 Sauces

#4 Spreads

In fact, about 75% of the salt we eat is those found in packaged and processed foods.

So, how can you reduce salt intake?

Low salt wholefoods

Base your food choices around nutritious foods that are naturally low in salt Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes, milk and dairy foods, and lean meat, fish and poultry

Herbs and spices

For a flavoursome boost in place of salt, try adding herbs and spices. Some examples include adding turmeric to curries and stews or rosemary with roast meat, chicken and fish.

Other spices to get creative with include paprika, cinnamon, chilli, and ginger, and herbs like basil, coriander, sage, parsley and mint. You can also add a citrus twist to your meal by adding the juice or the zest to your meals (and in doing so, it adds a touch of vitamin C!).

Be sparing with takeaway

Have fast food or takeaway occasionally (or less than once a week). The same goes for foods like chips, pies, pizza, and burgers, which are often packed full of salt.

Become label savvy

Keep an eye out for foods that are labelled ‘no added salt,’ or ‘salt reduced’ or ‘no added salt’. When looking at the nutrition information panel on the back of a packet, use the ‘per 100g’ column to compare different products, and look for ‘sodium.’

As a general guide, a low salt food has less than 120mg of sodium per 100g, and over 400g per 100g is considered to be high in salt.

Simone Austin is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Senior Dietetic Advisor at Dietitians Australia.

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