Salt

Salt is essential for life, however Australians are consuming far too much. Salt is made up of sodium and chloride and it’s the sodium in salt that can be bad for your health.

Eating too much sodium over time can increase your risk of high blood pressure which is a major risk factor for heart disease. For a healthy heart, it’s important to not eat too much salt.

“75 per cent of our salt intake comes from packaged and processed foods we eat every day, like bread, breakfast cereals, processed meats, cheese, sauces and spreads.”

Salt and food

Salt is found in almost every food we eat, but the amount varies. Foods such as meat, vegetables and fruit have naturally occurring salt present in very small quantities. In food manufacturing, salt is used for flavouring as a preservative. Seventy-five per cent of our salt intake comes from packaged and processed foods we eat every day, like bread, breakfast cereals, processed meats, cheese, sauces and spreads.

One of the best ways to avoid salt is to ensure most of your diet is made up of fresh foods such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, meat, fish and poultry as these are naturally low in salt.

Discover ways to cut down on salt.

Salt and sodium

The terms salt and sodium are often used interchangeably but they refer to different things, as sodium is one component of salt.  It is the sodium that is labelled on nutrition information panels on packaged foods.

How to convert salt to sodium

Multiply the grams of salt by 0.4 to get the amount of sodium in grams. Then multiply by 1000 to get the sodium in milligrams. One gram of salt equals 400 milligrams of sodium.

  • Salt grams x 0.4 = sodium in grams

How to convert sodium to salt

Multiply amount of sodium in milligrams by 2.5 to get the milligrams of salt. Then divide by 1000 to get grams of salt.1 gram (1000 milligrams) of sodium equals about 2.5 grams of salt.

  • Sodium grams x 2.5 = salt in milligrams

To reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease, the Heart Foundation recommends adults eat less than 6g of salt (2400 mg of sodium) a day. That’s about a teaspoon a day. This should be lower for children.

How much salt should I eat?

To reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease, the Heart Foundation recommends adults eat less than 6g of salt (2400 mg of sodium) a day. That’s about a teaspoon a day. This should be lower for children.

If you have high blood pressure, we recommend you reduce your salt intake to 4g (1600 mg sodium) per day. Talk with your doctor or health practitioner about what’s right for you.

Salt and high blood pressure

High dietary intakes of salt leads to high blood pressure. Reducing salt in your diet can reduce your blood pressure, however the extent to which it does depends on age, physical activity levels, weight and stress.

Salt and health

High salt intake impacts the body and your health in many ways and is associated with conditions other than high blood pressure such as:

  • heart failure/heart attack
  • kidney problems and kidney stones
  • oedema (fluid retention)
  • stroke
  • left ventricular hypertrophy (thickening of heart muscle)
  • osteoporosis.

Get answers to common questions about salt.

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