Reduce Salt Intake

SixFix aim for salt intake: less than 6 g per day, limited added salt and opt for reduced salt products.

The obvious point here is not adding extra salt to your food at the table. Now there are some foods that do need a bit of salt (chips for example – yes I am human really!).  Some people add salt to tomatoes in a salad – try buying red ripe tomatoes, rather than more orangey ones as they will naturally have more flavour and therefore not require salt.

Again, it’s incredibly difficult to weigh the amount of salt you’re taking in each day. Fortunately, nutrition labels on food packaging now make estimating this a lot easier. Most pre-packed foods have a nutrition label on the pack or side of the packaging.

Salt is also unfortunately hidden in lots of ready-made foods. So another way to reduce your salt intake is to learn ‘label language’ again. Even by simply comparing the labels of 2 different brands of baked beans and choosing the lower will reduce your salt a bit.

Many foods also display information on the salt content on the front of the packaging. This may show the salt content as a percentage of your Guideline Daily Amount, or display a traffic light to show whether the food is low, medium or high in salt. Where traffic lights are used, red means high: leave these foods for an occasional treat, and aim to eat mainly foods that are green or amber.

Look at the figure for salt per 100g:

  • High is more than 1.5g salt per 100g (or 0.6g sodium). May display a red traffic light.
  • Low is 0.3g salt or less per 100g (or 0.1g sodium). May display a green traffic light.

If the amount of salt per 100g is in between 0.3g and 1.5g, that is a medium level of salt, and the packaging may display an amber traffic light.

As a rule, aim for foods that have a low or medium salt content.

Lots of companies are now making reduced salt varieties of products. Here are some SixFix-tested examples:

  • HP Reduced Salt & Sugar Brown Sauce – I can’t notice the difference.
  • Heinz Reduced Sugar & Salt Tomato Ketchup
  • Bisto Reduced Salt Beef Gravy – only available in beef at the moment. Frustratingly it’s higher in fat than their premium product, but lower in fat. I’ve chosen to go with the lower salt option (plus it’s cheaper). Some might say that making your own gravy is also a way to reduce salt, but much to my Gran’s horror I’m sure, I’ve never made my own gravy!
  • Amoy reduced salt soy sauce
  • Kikkoman’s reduced salt soy sauce

Some might say that you wouldn’t eat enough to make a difference, but if every product you bought was reduced salt then it would all add up.

  • By adding extra flavourings into dishes that you cook you can reduced (or stop completely) the salt you add
    • Browning onions (in a little rapeseed oil or oil spray) gives extra flavour in dishes such as Bolognese sauce.
    • Fresh or dried herbs – keep a few pots of fresh herbs on your kitchen window sill, e.g. parsley, coriander & basil or use frozen. Oregano is better dried (even the Greeks say so!), thyme and sage also work well dried.
      • Waitrose frozen chopped herbs – parsley & coriander
  • Spices
    • Fresh chilli, ginger, lemongrass
    • Chilli powder, chilli flakes, cumin, coriander, paprika, smoked paprika, nutmeg, mustard powder, freshly ground black pepper.
    • A tip for getting even more flavour is to fry / toast your spices (i.e. fry chilli powder with your mince before adding tomatoes when making a chilli con carne) otherwise they can taste ‘raw’.
  • Wine – adding a little wine to dishes adds flavour
  • Tomato puree – beware of sieved tomatoes though (passata or tomato fritto) as they have a lot of salt added.