Wednesday 24 May 2017

Despite all the warnings we're still dying for salt

Tina Leonard

We all know how important it is to check prices when we're shopping for groceries, but how many of us stop and examine the nutritional labels on our food?

It would certainly be worth taking the time to do so. And you should focus particularly on the salt or sodium content because new research published by Safefood has found that 74pc of soup contains more than a third of the recommended daily salt intake.

The daily recommended level of salt intake is 6g, but research shows that in the Republic of Ireland, the average daily salt intake by adults is 9.3g.

Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director of Human Health and Nutrition at Safefood, says: "There is overwhelming scientific consensus about the critical role played by excess salt intake in the development of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke."

She adds that: "As consumers, we need to make a conscious effort to reduce our salt intake to a level that is not damaging to our health, by choosing lower salt options and eating less processed foods."

We can guess there is likely to be a heavy pinch of salt in processed meals, but isn't soup the healthy option?

From this survey, it would appear not. And, even when the soup was marketed as 'homemade', it contained as much salt as the other varieties.

Two hundred and one soup samples were collected from supermarkets, convenience stores, coffee shops, pubs and restaurants.

The findings were stark, with the average portion of soup containing 60pc of the daily recommended salt intake and one-in-10 samples containing more than the recommended daily amount in just one serving.

As most of us will add some bread or maybe a ham sandwich to the lunchtime soup, that salt intake could then rise to approximately 81pc of the recommended daily intake. And that's even before you go near the crisps or eat your dinner.

It is World Salt Awareness week this week, so now is a good time to start cutting back on the salt.

Plus, you could ask your favourite cafe or restaurant to go easy on the salt they add to their meals.

And here are some other tips:

1 Cut down or stop buying processed foods and instead make your own. That way, at least you can control what the ingredients are.

2 If you are used to adding salt to everything for flavour, try using herbs and spices instead.

3 Don't add salt to your food before you even taste it. There is likely to be a heap of salt in it already.

4 Read the label. You'll find salt in almost everything.

5 If you can't find salt on the label, look for sodium. It's a sneaky way of making the salt content look less as 1g of sodium is the same as 2.5g of salt.

Useful website: www.safefood.eu

Irish Independent

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