Salt (sodium)

salt shaker

A high intake of salt-preserved foods as traditionally prepared in East Asia (e.g. pickled vegetables and salted/dried fish) has been linked to higher rates of stomach cancer. In countries where refrigeration is commonly used for storage of perishable foods rather than salting, stomach cancer is less common.

However, too much salt can increase our blood pressure and our risk of heart disease and stroke. For more information about heart disease visit the National Heart Foundation website.

While it's true that the body needs salt to function, in most circumstances we can meet our salt requirement naturally from foods and there is no need to add salt to our food. We recommend eating a diet low in salt.

Most of the salt in our diet comes from packaged and take-away foods, such as pizza, pies, sauces, soups, margarines, breads and breakfast cereals. When shopping, read food labels and try to choose products with less than 400mg of sodium per 100g. Less than 120mg is best.

Tips to reduce your salt (sodium) intake:

  • Look for ‘low-salt', ‘no added salt' or ‘salt-reduced' products
  • Reduce the amount of salt you eat gradually to help you get used to the new taste
  • Limit or avoid adding salt during cooking or at the table. Instead flavour your food with herbs, spices, pepper, garlic, chilli, and lemon juice
  • Be aware that products such as sea salt, himalayan salt, chicken salt, garlic salt, onion salt and celery salt all contain sodium and so have the same health effects as ordinary table salt
  • Only use small amounts of very salty ingredients (such as soy sauce, olives, parmesan cheese and anchovies) in cooking
  • Swap salty snacks like pretzels and potato chips for snacks such as fruit, yoghurt and unsalted nuts and seeds
  • Limit take-away foods and pre-packaged sauces and condiments
  • Limit processed meats, such as bacon, ham and salami
  • Choose fish canned in spring water rather than brine.