Misperceptions about salt reduction

High sodium consumption (>2 grams/day, equivalent to 5 g salt/day) and insufficient potassium intake (less than 3.5 grams/day) contribute to high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

The main source of sodium in our diet is salt, although it can come from sodium glutamate, used as a condiment in many parts of the world.

Most people consume too much salt—on average 9–12 grams per day, or around twice the recommended maximum level of intake.

Salt intake of less than 5 grams per day for adults helps to reduce blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and coronary heart attack. The principal benefit of lowering salt intake is a corresponding reduction in high blood pressure.

These are 8 misperceptions about salt reduction:

1.“On a hot and humid day when you sweat, you need more salt in the diet:” 

REALITY: There is little salt lost through sweat so there is no need for extra salt even on a hot and humid day, although it is important to drink a lot of water.

2.“Sea salt is not ‘better’ than manufactured salt simply because it is ‘natural.”

REALITY: Regardless of the source of salt, it is the sodium in salt that causes bad health outcomes.

3.“Salt added during cooking is not the main source of salt intake.”

REALITY: In many countries, about 80% of salt in the diet comes from processed foods.

4. “Food does not need salt to have appealing flavour.”

REALITY: It takes some time for a person’s taste buds to adjust, but once they get used to less salt, one is more likely to enjoy food and notice a broader range of flavours.

5.“Food has no flavour without salt.”

REALITY: While this may be true at first, taste buds soon become accustomed to less salt and you are more likely to enjoy food with less salt, and more flavour.

6.“Foods high in salt taste salty.”

REALITY: Some foods that are high in salt don’t taste very salty because sometimes they are mixed with other things like sugars that mask the taste. It is important to read food labels to find out sodium levels.

7.“Only old people need to worry about how much salt they eat:”

REALITY: Eating too much salt can raise blood pressure at any age.

8.“Reducing salt could be bad for my health:”

REALITY: It’s very difficult to eat too little salt since there are so many everyday foods containing salt