Sodium Chloride: what we need and how to reduce what we currently consume
Why do we need Sodium Chloride?
Sodium chloride is commonly known as salt. Sodium and chloride are minerals needed by the body, (in small amounts), to help keep the level of fluids in the body balanced. Chloride also helps the body digest food.
Where can we get Sodium Chloride from?
Salt is found naturally at low levels in many foods, but it’s often added to processed foods. Some of these include:-
- ready meals
- some breakfast cereals
- some tinned vegetables
- some bread
- savoury snacks
How much Sodium Chloride do we need?
You should have no more than 6g of salt i.e. 2.4g of sodium per day. However, on average, people in the UK eat 8g of salt, which is about 3.2g of sodium, per a day. That's much more than the body needs.
What happens if we have too much Sodium Chloride?
Having too much salt is linked to high blood pressure, which raises the risk of having a stroke or a heart attack.
A few practical tips for cutting down on salt
- check food labels and choose foods with less salt
- choose tinned vegetables and pulses that don't have added salt
- only use sauces like soy sauce, brown sauce and ketchup, sparingly, as they're often high in salt
- eat fewer salty snacks, such as crisps, salted nuts
- eat less salty foods e.g. pickles
- add less or no salt when cooking, and instead, use herbs and spices for flavour
- choose low-salt stock cubes, or make your own stock without added salt
- taste your food first, and don't automatically add extra salt
You can also download the Change4Life Be Food Smart app, which allows you to scan food barcodes to check the salt content.
What does the Department of Health have to say about Sodium Chloride?
"Adults should eat no more than 6g of salt a day – that's around one teaspoon. On average, we eat 2.1g more salt than we should each day. The Department of Health advises that people cut down on salt and says sodium chloride shouldn't be used in supplements."
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