By Amy Lawrenson
When it comes to choosing which foods to buy I always check the nutrition labels for calories and saturated fat, but lately, I've also been checking the salt label too - it's shocking how much salt is added to some ready-made foods. Salt (also listed as sodium on labels) affects your health - too much and you could be at risk from high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis and kidney disease.
Interestingly Susie Perry Debice, Nutritionist from The Food Doctor told me 'some experts believe that there is a link between high salt intake and obesity which is thought to be down to the over-consumption of sugary drinks used to quench the thirst caused by the high intake of salt.
It's not all bad though, as we do need to consume some of the mineral sodium (around 6g per day) as it helps to ensure our nerves and muscles function properly. Just make sure you don't overdo it.
So how can we cut down on salt? Heres three top tips...
Tip one: The easiest way to avoid too much salt is by cutting down on ready-meals (including pre-packed sandwiches and salads), along with the obvious salty snacks like preserved meats, olives, marmite, crisps, chips, cheese biscuits and salted nuts. Be warned though 'many people will be quite surprised to learn that most breads, breakfast cereals, sauces and soups also contain a fair amount of salt,' says Susie.
Tip two: If you tend to sprinkle salt onto every meal automatically, stop. Taste your food before you reach for the shaker, you may realise that not everything needs a sprinkling of salt.
Tip three: The Food Doctor website sells two table salt alternatives. First is Herbamare, £3.15, which contains a combination of sea salt, iodine-rich kelp and 14 different organically grown herbs and vegetables. 'The added flavour provided by the herbs and vegetables means you need far less in comparison to normal salt', Susie tells me.
Also available is Green Bay Fine Kelp, £9.95, which contains alginates and over 70 trace minerals, including naturally high levels of iodine and potassium, vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D and E, plus amino acids. A far better alternative than traditional table salt.
So try one of these, but remember you still need to go easy....