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How to reduce your salt intake

March 13, 2013

Going for unsmoked bacon is one way to reduce salt in your diet. — shutterstock.com picGoing for unsmoked bacon is one way to reduce salt in your diet. — shutterstock.com pic

According to a study by Consensus Action on Salt & Health, some of the worst offenders are Gordon Ramsay's Savoy Grill mussels, cooked in a cider cream sauce and served with fries, as well as the meatballs in Jamie Oliver's restaurant chain Jamie's Italian.

At the other end of the spectrum, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal came out on top for offering dishes low in salt.

To reduce high salt intake -- a bad dietary habit that has been blamed for everything from high blood pressure to stomach cancer, osteoporosis, kidney disease and heart disease -- here are a few tips from Britain's National Health Service.

National Salt Awareness Week wraps up March 17.

The maximum recommended salt intake is 6g a day, the equivalent of one teaspoon.

The daily recommended maximum amount of salt children should eat depends on age:

1 to 3 years - 2g salt a day (0.8g sodium)
4 to 6 years - 3g salt a day (1.2g sodium)
7 to 10 years - 5g salt a day (2g sodium)
11 years and over - 6g salt a day (2.4g sodium)

Check the nutritional label: High salt content is more than 1.5g of salt per 100g while low is 0.3g of salt or less per 100g.

List of high-salt foods

anchovies
bacon
cheese
gravy granules
ham
olives
pickles
prawns
salami
salted and dry roasted nuts
salt fish
smoked meat and fish
soy sauce
stock cubes
yeast extract

What to keep in mind when you go grocery shopping:

Go for reduced-salt, unsmoked bacon and try to avoid cured meats and fish, which can be high in salt.

Buy canned vegetables without added salt.

Tomato-based sauces are often lower in salt than cheesy sauces or those containing olives, bacon or ham.

Choose fruit or vegetables such as carrot or celery sticks for snacking. If you are going to have crisps or crackers, check the label and choose the ones lower in salt.

Go easy on soy sauce, mustard, pickles, mayonnaise and other table sauces, as these can all be high in salt.

Cook with less salt:

Use black pepper as seasoning instead of salt. Try it on pasta, scrambled eggs, pizza, fish and soups.

Add fresh herbs and spices like garlic, ginger, chilli and lime in dishes.

Make your own stock and gravy instead of using cubes or granules, or look out for reduced-salt products.

Try baking or roasting vegetables such as red peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, fennel, parsnips and squash to bring out their flavor.

Make sauces using ripe flavorful tomatoes and garlic.

— AFP-Relaxnews

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