Salt and Sodium

Salt and Sodium, Whats the Difference?

Salt is a source of Sodium, table salt's chemical name is actually Sodium Chloride. Salt is the commonest form of Sodium that we eat but there are other sources of Sodium.

Some of these other sources are: Sodium Bicarbonate, Monosodium Glutamate (or MSG), Baking Powder and Baking Soda. Anything to with Soda or Sodium in the ingredients.

The amount of sodium in your diet can cause problems, regardless if it comes from salt, sea salt, mono sodium glutamate or any other source of sodium.

Why Restrict Salt/Sodium in the Diet?

To much Sodium can cause a rise in blood pressure, with salt the main source of Sodium in our diet.

Reducing Salt and other sources of Sodium in the diet can help lower blood pressure. Keeping blood pressure within safe limits reduces of the risks of heart disease as well as damage to the eye and kidney.

How to Reduce Salt

There are two parts to reducing salt in the diet:
  • First stop using salt added at the table or during cooking. Typically about 10-15% of the salt in our diets comes from this added salt.

  • A further 75% of salt in the diet comes from processed food. It can be hard to cut back on this.

    Using more fresh (or unprocessed frozen) fruits, vegetables, meat and fish can help do this. Look at the ingredients on processed foods like ready made meals, canned and smoked foods, find alternatives or eat smaller quantities of foods with high levels of sodium or salt.

The remaining about 10% of salt occurs naturally in food.

Salt and Taste

Salt does enhances flavour but there are alternatives, give the herbs and spices a chance you may be pleasantly surprised.

Some of this too is a matter of being used to high levels of salt in your diet. After reducing salt for a while you simply get used to the taste with less salt.

Advisory Daily Limits

For adults no more than 6g of salt a day, which is the equivalent of 2.4g of sodium.

In more general terms per 100g of food -

Low Salt: Up to 0.25g of salt the equivalent of 0.1g Sodium. In percentage terms thats up to 0.25% salt or 0.1% sodium.
High Salt: More than 1g of salt the equivalent of 0.4g sodium. In percentage terms that more than 1% salt or 0.4% sodium.

Foods that may be High in Salt

This is not a complete list or a list to avoid but a list to take care with the quantity you have of these products.

In general with all processed food, check the labels you may be able to find alternative processed foods with lower levels of salt/sodium.

If it is labelled as sodium: multiple by 2½ times to get the salt equivalent.

  • Stock Cubes: The worst I have seen was 42% salt, money for old rope!

  • Smoked Foods: For example , fresh salmon 0.1% salt, some smoked salmon 4.7% salt.

  • Cured cooked meat. Ham and Bacon can often be high in salt.

  • Cheese Salt content (Source FSA 2002):
    • Feta 3.6%
    • Processed 3.5%
    • Danish Blue 3.1%
    • Cheese Spread 2.7%
    • Edam 2.5%
    • Stilton 2.0%
    • Parmesan 1.9%
    • Cheddar 1.8%
    • Red Leicester 1.7%
    • Camembert 1.5%
    • Brie 1.4%
    • Cheshire 1.3%
    • Mozzarella 1.0%
    • Cottage Cheese .9%
    • Cream Cheese .8%

  • Processed Foods: These vary a great deal, one portion of many ready meal can exceed the 6g of salt in one meal!

External Links

Is Sea Salt Healthier?

It is still a source of sodium, mainly sodium chloride with a little of some other 'salts'. It has the same effect on blood pressure as ordinary salt.