With recent food trends moving towards processed or prepared foods, it has become necessary for everyone to monitor their personal salt intake regularly. The generally accepted maximum recommended amount of salt intake per day is set at 2400 mg by the US Food and Drug Administration ( FDA. ) The average fast food burger contains anywhere from 500mg to 1500mg of sodium.

Many foods such as anchovies, salted nuts, packaged soups, sauces, breads, cereals and ready made meals already contain reasonably high levels of salt. In product where salt is mentioned as sodium, the quantity should be multiplied by 2.5 in order to determine the actual salt content. The guidelines for salt content state that 0.1g of sodium is low salt, 0.2-0.4g is medium salt and over 0.5g is high salt content.

In fact, the simple table salt is no longer simple. Consider this: Consumption of more than 6g of salt per day (which is equivalent to one teaspoon of salt) can lead to high blood pressure which can then lead to stroke, heart attack, osteoporosis and asthma. Salt has also been linked to stomach cancer.

And, those suffering from high blood pressure and kidney problems should be particularly careful about salt intake. The kidneys regulate salt level regulation in the body. When the body's sodium levels are low then the kidneys conserve it. When the levels are elevated the kidneys work to reduce it. With age the kidneys are unable to perform this task optimally and the potential problems become much more likely to occur.

Salt consumption should also be monitored by those who are sensitive to sodium. There is currently no test to determine sodium sensitivity, However if your blood pressure lowers while on a low salt diet then it is safe to assume that the odds are you are among the genotypes that have a sensitivity to sodium.

Many alternatives to salt can be used for cooking, such as curry powders, mustard powder, lemon juice, lime juice, red wine, white wine, cider, beer, onions, garlic, shallots, ginger and chilies. Potassium can also be used as salt substitutes.

Monitoring salt consumption

If you are amongst those who need to monitor their salt consumption, then you need to keep these terms in mind and make a point of buying low-salt foods on your next trip to the grocery store.

  • Sodium free means less than 5 mg sodium in a portion.
  • Very low sodium means less than 35 mg sodium in a portion.
  • Low sodium means less than 140 mg sodium in a portion.
  • Reduced sodium food contains 25 percent less sodium than the original food item.
  • Light in sodium food has 50 percent less sodium than the original food item.
  • Unsalted, No salt added, or Without added salt means absolutely no salt has been added to a food that's normally processed with salt.
  • Be careful of salt substitutes. Some contain sodium. Check the label. You could end up eating so much of the substitute in an attempt to get that salty taste that your total sodium intake is just as high as using salt.