Cara Cunningham, MINDI, Community Dietitian
The Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH ) has recently carried out a nutritional breakdown of an Indian meal – similar to one you would buy in the supermarket – with rice, naan, curry included.
They found that some contained a whopping 20.5grams of salt, that’s over three times the amount recommended for adults in Ireland. The concern is that much of the salt we eat is not through choice but added to processed food. All this means that it is increasingly difficult to cut down on the amount of salt we eat.
There is little information on the actual salt intake of Irish adult, however a typical British adult consumes on average 8.6grams of salt per day, in the US, this figure is more like 10grams per day. So we could assume that the average Irish person if likely to have similar levels – what it boils down to is that it is too much!
But what is all the fuss about salt – does it actually cause harm? Well here are the salt facts.
· Taking less salt lowers your blood pressure – this lowers your risk of heart disease and strokes. Research has shown that lowering salt intake is on a par with the health benefits of reducing cholesterol and stopping smoking
· Other research has shown that cutting daily salt intake by 5 grams could reduce strokes by nearly a quarter
A good start to cutting down on your salt intake is not adding salt at the table at all – it may take a bit of getting use to but given a few weeks you won’t even notice it gone! Add other flavours to your food – by adding different herbs and spices.
But far and away our biggest source of salt is processed food so get savvier about reading the labels and comparing different brands of products. Its amazing the difference between brands – and any manufacture that are making attempts to cut down on salt in their foods should be congratulated and supported! Of course making meals from scratch is the ultimate way of ensuring you know exactly what goes into the mix.
For more information or for more information on diet and nutrition, please contact:
The Community Nutrition and Dietetic Service, HSE Dublin-Mid Leinster Tel: (044 ) 9395518 or email [email protected].