SaltsmallIt’s well known that having too much salt in your diet isn’t good for you. But in everyday life, we often don’t consider the very real health risks associated with it. 

Consensus Action on Salt and Health has been campaigning for almost 20 years now to change this, through National Salt Awareness Week. Running from the 16th to the 22nd of March, this campaign aims to increase understanding of why keeping an eye on salt intake is important. In particular, the scheme hopes to highlight the significance of keeping the amount our children eat to a reasonable level.

Salt is what is known as a learned taste. The more you expose your taste buds to it, the more you become used to it. Those who have acquired a high taste threshold for salt tend to need more in their meals. But those who eat too much are also putting their health at risk. In the UK today, around one in four people are obese, and almost one in three have high blood pressure. Excess salt intake constitutes towards both of these conditions, making it a prominent health issue.

 

Early Habits

Countless studies have shown that the habits we develop early in life tend to stay with us; making the food choices we make for our children as parents especially important. Parents determine so much of what we consider a normal diet. It's therefore vital for Mums and Dads to know what goes into what they're feeding their children, so that they can look after their long-term health.

The journey to a healthier life starts in the kitchen. Take measures to lower salt in your family meals by opting for healthier flavourings. Citrus juices, herbs and sodium-free spices are a good place to start. But be keep this in mind when perusing the supermarket too. One of the easiest ways to lower salt intake is through snack management. Going to the effort of changing the way you cook at home is great – but there's no point undoing your good work by sending your kids to school with salty pre-packed snacks.

 

20 Popular Offenders

Below is a chart of 20 of the most well-known snack and lunchbox-filler choices you’ll find on the shelves, alongside their salt content. Obviously, the real servings would only be a fraction of 100g in some cases, but it’s important to bear in mind that the recommended daily salt intake for a child is just 2-6g. For instance, one 25g Peperami stick, containing 1g of salt, could take up anywhere between 20 and 50 per cent of a child’s salt RDA - and that’s without even starting on the three main meals.

 

Product Brand Type Salt per 100g (g)

Beef Jerky

Jack Links

Meat snack

5.3

Peperami Hot

Unilever

Meat snack

4

Space Raiders (Pickled Onion)

KP

Crisps

3.3

Pork Scratchings

Mr Porky’s

Meat snack

2.9

Snack-A-Jacks (Salt and Vinegar)

Snack-A-Jacks

Corn snack

2.8

Salted Pretzels

Penn State (KP)

Savoury 

2.5

Dry Roasted Peanuts

KP

Nuts

2

Burton's Fish and Chips

Burton’s

Savoury 

2

Twiglets

Jacob’s

Savoury 

2

All Butter Cheese Straws

Tesco Finest

Savoury

2

Cheese Thins

Asda

Crackers

2

Salt Popcorn

Tesco

Corn snack

1.9

Cheese Strings

Kerry

Cheese

1.9

Babybel

Fromageries Bel

Cheese

1.8

Hula Hoops (Ready Salted)

KP

Crisps

1.8

Ketchup

Heinz

Sauce

1.8

Dairylea Lunchables (Ham and Cheese)

Mondelez

Cheese and savoury

1.7

Mayonnaise 

Hellmanns

Sauce

1.6

Dairylea Cheese Triangles

Mondelez

Cheese

1.5

Fridge Raider Chicken Bites

Matteson’s

Meat snack

1.5

 

  1. Doctor’s Advice

Clever lunch choices are key to cutting out the need for added stodgy fillers. Try to keep lunch to just one good, balanced sandwich, instead of both a sandwich and a meaty snack. If savoury nibbles are a must-have, don't go for the saltier flavours. Where possible, try to steer them towards dried fruit snacks instead. 

Some breakfast cereals, such as Kellogg’s Corn Flakes (1.25g per 100g) are also worth a mention - don’t forget how much ground the 2-6g RDA needs to cover. Fortunately, after some unflattering studies a decade ago, many cereal companies have taken measures to reduce the salt content in their products. So don't just stick with the old favourites, and shop around. There are plenty of healthier options out there.