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Say no to salt

Although our bodies need a small amount of salt, many of us eat too much, putting ourselves at greater risk of high blood pressure, which triples your risk of developing heart disease or stroke.

Adults should try to make sure their daily intake of salt is no more than 6g a day and children need even less. The daily recommended maximum for children is:

  • 1 to 3 years – 2g salt a day (0.8g sodium)
  • 4 to 6 years – 3g salt a day (1.2g sodium)
  • 7 to 10 years – 5g salt a day (2g sodium)
  • 11 and over – 6g salt a day (2.4g sodium)

Savvy shopping

Many of the foods that we buy contain large amounts of salt. Approximately 75% of the salt we eat is already in the food we buy. Foods high in salt include:

  • Ham, bacon, sausages, salami, pâtés and other processed meats
  • Canned, packet or instant soups
  • Smoked meat and fish
  • Cheese
  • Gravies, yeast extracts, stock cubes, soy sauce
  • Tomato ketchup, mayonnaise and other sauces
  • Ready meals and takeaway e.g. pizza, Indian, Chinese food
  • Some jars/packets of cooking sauce
  • Olives/pickles
  • Salted and dry roasted nuts and crisps

Read the Label

You don’t need to stop salty foods altogether – cut down on the amount you eat or eat them less often. Salt is also found in bread and breakfast cereals which are both an important part of a healthy diet. Compare labels when you are shopping and choose ones lower in salt.

Some labels contain information on sodium instead of salt. To find out how much salt is in the food, multiply the amount of sodium by 2.5.

Many labels use a traffic light system to show the levels of salt in the food. Check the front of the packet. If the amount of salt is in red, it means it is high in salt. If it is amber, it means there is a medium amount of salt. Green means it is low in salt. Avoid the red labelled foods and go for green over amber where possible.

As a guide, remember that a food is low in salt if it contains less than 0.3g per 100g of the product. If it has more than 1.5g salt per 100g of the food it is high in salt and any levels between this indicate a medium amount of salt.

For more information visit NI Direct’s page on salt.