Letter-to-editor by Jenny Reimers, Dietician and VicHealth Healthy Eating Principal Program Officer
First published in the Bendigo Advertiser, 18 May 2017.
Alarming new research from the George Institute revealing Australians are consuming twice the recommended amount of salt is a timely reminder that we need to get serious about cutting back on salt.
While eating too much salt is often overshadowed by other harmful eating habits, such as sugar, fat, and fad diets, it’s no secret that salt is one of the biggest killers in our pantries.
"The Global Burden of Disease study found almost one in 20 deaths in Australia is attributable to high salt intake – that's six times the annual road toll."
Excessive salt consumption increases the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease including heart attack, stroke and blood vessel disease.
Cutting back on salt is a cost-effective way to improve our health. Research shows that reducing Australia’s salt intake by 30 per cent would save more than 3400 lives a year and millions of dollars in healthcare costs.
Unfortunately it’s hard to keep track of how much salt we’re eating because most salt in the average Aussie diet comes from processed foods and may not be obvious. Pizza, processed meats, takeaway foods and salty snacks are high in salt, and we also consume a surprising amount of salt from everyday foods like breads, pasta sauces and cooking sauces.
If you’re concerned about eating too much salt, try improving your health with some of our top tips:
- Eat more fresh vegetables and fruit which are naturally low in salt.
- Check the label and look for foods with less than 400mg of sodium per 100g - or use the FoodSwitch app.
- Cut back on salty packaged or processed foods such as potato chips, processed meats, packet soups and sauces, pies, sausage rolls, sausages, pizzas, and ready-made meals.
- Buy lower salt breads and breakfast cereals, and ‘reduced salt’ sauces and condiments where available.
- When cooking, limit salty sauces and condiments such as stock, soy and fish sauce, and table salt, and instead try herbs, garlic, and pepper as seasonings which are naturally low in salt.
- Take the salt shaker off the table.
With Victorians eating more than 18 truckloads of salt each week it’s time to put down the salt shaker and kick our salty habit for good.
- Jenny Reimers, Dietician and VicHealth Healthy Eating Principal Program Officer