Salt. Just how much of it do you consume every day, and do you know just what foods it is hidden in?
That is the question being asked by leading Lincolnshire community nutritionist Marko Humphrey during National Salt Awareness Week, which runs from Monday March 4.
Marko, who works with the Magna Vitae Trust for Leisure and Culture and runs regular sessions on the benefits of healthy eating, is using the week to highlight how people should be aware of just how much salt they are putting into their bodies weekly.
Marko said: “It is recommended that adults should not consume more than 6g (2.4g of sodium), which is about a teaspoon a day. With much of the population exceeding this, people should look at what they are eating especially if they have health conditions, such as hypertension.”
So, what are Marko’s top tips?
• Read food labels to see how much salt you might be consuming from processed foods;
• Be aware that many foods can be much higher in salt than you would imagine such as bread, breakfast cereals, stock cubes and cooking sauces;
• Be aware of products that don’t taste especially salty but still have high salt content, such as cottage cheese;
• Preparing your own meals will mean less salt intake compared to ready meals;
• Salt preference is an acquired taste that can be unlearned. It takes between six and eight weeks to adjust to eating food with lower salt levels, but once it’s done, it’s actually difficult to eat foods like crisps because they taste really salty;
• Use fresh rather than packaged meats;
• If a food keeps well in the fridge for days or weeks, this can be a tip that it contains too much salt;
• Try to break the habit of using lots of salt to season your food. Instead have a look at using fresh or dried herbs;
• Focusing on the main foods in the Mediterranean diet (oily fish, seafood, vegetables, fruits, nuts, extra virgin olive oil, whole grains, beans, herbs and spices) will automatically mean your salt intake will be lower;
• There are salts on the market with lower sodium levels such as Lo-Salt, Solo salt, and various sea salts. But there is a caution here for those on certain types of cardiac medication.
Marko’s CHAPS’ sessions for men over 50 – commissioned by TED (Talk. Eat. Drink.) – are free, and are held weekly at the following venues:
• Monday 10am until noon. Wellbeing sessions (cooking, weight management, blood pressure checks, lifestyle tips, mental health advice) at the Youth Centre, off Jubilee Way, Horncastle.
• Monday 1.30pm until 3.30pm. Cooking sessions at the Trinity Centre, Eastgate, Louth.
• Thursday 10am until noon. Wellbeing sessions (cooking, weight management, blood pressure checks, lifestyle tips, mental health advice) at Burgh le Marsh Village Hall, Jacksons Lane, Burgh le Marsh.
For more on any of these activities and other free community sessions, visit www.magnavitae.org.