Your body needs 1-2g of salt per day to function. Learn more about monitoring your salt intake with this resource.
This content was developed in partnership with the Heart Foundation as part of the former Unpack the Salt Campaign.
The recommended maximum daily salt intake for healthy adults is 5g. That’s around 1 teaspoon. And while your body does need some salt to function, it’s only around 1-2g and you can easily get this from fresh food like fruit and vegetables.
Is too much salt bad for you?
The recommended maximum daily salt intake for healthy adults is 5g. Too much salt can put you at risk of heart attack and stroke, and eating too much salt is unhealthy for both children and adults. Children who have higher levels of salt can develop higher blood pressure and this can continue into adulthood, where it increases their risk of heart attack and stroke too.
4 tips to cut down on salt
Always read the label - The simplest way to work out how much salt you’re eating is to check the food label, in particular the Nutrition Information Panel (NIP) on the package.
Try to limit consumption of ultra-processed foods–ultra-processed foods like sweet and savoury snacks, potato chips, pre-prepared meals, soups and fast food are often high in salt, sugar and fat. Where possible, opt for minimally processed foods.
Pick frozen over tinned vegetables- Frozen vegetables are also a great option as salt is generally not used in the freezing process. Some tinned vegetables contain added salt in the water, called brine. If you do choose tinned, make sure you drain and rinse them well under water before use to remove excess salt, or opt for ‘no added salt’ varieties.
Stop adding salt to your food at the dinner table - Banish the salt shaker from your family’s table. Taste your food before you season it, and if it does need a little something extra try adding some pepper, spices or fresh herbs instead.
Eat fresh - Load your trolley up with as much fruit and veg as you can. They are naturally low in salt and packed full of nutrients that are good for your heart.
Salt vs Sodium
You can tell how much salt is in a packaged food product from the Nutrition Information Panel. When you’re looking at this panel, there are a few things that can help you decode the information. First of all – salt is listed as ‘sodium’.
When you’re looking at how much salt is in your packaged food, the best place to check is the per 100g column. This can help you compare two similar products – all you have to do is pick the one with less sodium! So what should you look for? The best options have less than 120mg of sodium per 100g, while options with more than 400mg of sodium per 100g are best avoided if possible.
Best Options: Up to 120mg sodium per 100g/ml
OK Options: Up to 400mg sodium per 100g/ml
Reconsider:More than 400mg sodium per 100g/100ml
What does low salt labelling mean?
Some food manufacturers have already started reducing salt in their products. In these cases you may see ‘No Salt’, ‘Low Salt’, or ‘Reduced Salt’ advertised on the label. What do these phrases on the front of the packaging really mean?
No salt - Food and its ingredients has to contain no added sodium including no added salt during processing. Be aware – the product may still contain naturally occurring sodium.
Low salt - Solid food must have less than 120mg of sodium (0.3g salt) per 100g. Liquid food must have less than 120mg of sodium (0.3g per salt) per 100ml.
Reduced salt - Food has to have 25% less sodium than in the same amount of a comparative reference food. Eg. ‘Low Salt Tomato Sauce’ has 25% less sodium when compared to a standard tomato sauce.
How to convert sodium to salt (or vice versa)
To convert sodium to salt, multiply the sodium figure in milligrams (mg) by 2.5 and then divide by 1000 to get the figure in grams. For example:
What is the salt content of 200mg of sodium?
200mg x 2.5 = 500mg of salt
500mg/1000 = 0.5g of salt.
So, 200mg of sodium equals 500 mgs or 0.5g of salt. It might seem small, but with a recommended daily intake no higher than 5g per day you can see how it can add up quite quickly.