As a healthy eater, you already know that too much table salt can be bad for the body. But how much is too much, and where is salt lurking in today's foods?
Get a jump start on Salt Awareness Week (16-22 March this year) so you can advise your Personal Training clients, friends and family about salt in food.
Almost everyone in the UK eats too much salt, even those who don't add extra salt on top of their food or whilst cooking. Invisibility is one of the hidden dangers of salt! Foods don't have to taste salty or make you feel thirsty to contain a lot of salt. Around 75% of the salt we eat is already in the foods we buy, and it can be in the most unexpected of places: cheese, sauces and flavourings, margarine and spreads, breakfast cereals, bread and sweet baked goods. Even "healthier" choices can be laden with salt: dairy-free milk replacements are a common culprit.
How much salt should we be eating? Our bodies need a minuscule amount of need sodium (salt) to regulate internal fluid levels. Recommended intake is probably far less than you think - adults need just 6g of salt a day and children need much less. Try weighing that out as a powerful visual for your healthy eating clients. Then tell them that we eat 8.1g per person per day on average… so many people will be eating far more than this.
You can also advise your clients that salt is sodium and chloride, so if they are looking at food labels and just see sodium listed, multiply by 2.5 to reach the figure for salt.
Taking in too much salt increases our risk of developing high blood pressure, one of the main causes of strokes, heart failure and heart attacks. In fact, excess salt consumption is linked to around 17,500 deaths from heart attacks and strokes every year.
Here's some great healthy eating advice you can give your clients, helping them to cut down on salt consumption and avoid the health risks associated with too much salt!
- Retune your taste buds to enjoy other flavourings like fresh or dried herbs, chilli, black pepper, lemon, mustard, vinegar and other salt-free natural flavourings to make food tastier. Cut back on salt, salty flavourings, sauces, marinades and rubs.
- Learn to read and understand food labels to see where excess salt is lurking. Remember to check the labels on all sorts of packaged, processed foods, not just the obvious!
- Low blood pressure isn't an excuse to eat more salt. The risks of excess salt intake happen well within "normal" ranges, and blood pressure naturally increases with age anyway.
- Exercising is no reason to eat more salt, either. You do sweat salt out of your body but in minimal amounts. Staying hydrated is far more important.
- Don't assume that "healthier" types of salt (sea salt or pink Himalayan, for instance) are better. They may contain more nutrients than table salt but they affect your body and blood pressure in the same way.
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