Most of us eat too much salt, which can lead to high blood pressure and eventually to heart disease and strokes. Changing how much salt we eat is not that easy, especially because most of the salt that we eat is already in the foods we buy. Choosing foods lower in salt can sometimes be difficult, and requires scrutinizing labels for sodium content. This is not always that practical during a rushed visit to the supermarket! This month we want to make eating less salt a little easier and more practical. We have come up with a list of 8 easy swaps to reduce your daily salt intake.
1. Swap salted nuts for unsalted nuts
As easy as that! You can also swap salted peanut butter for the unsalted version. This is a no-added-cost, like-for-like swap that we all should do.
2. Processed meat for fresh meat
Processed meats like polony, viennas, and other sausages are some of the saltiest foods we eat. Prepare a little more chicken or mince for supper, and use it as a sandwich-filler for the next few days. Tuna can also be a better choice, just rinse out the saltwater from the tin.
3. Salty flavourings for unsalted flavours
Spices like barbeque or chicken spice contain mostly salt. If you use them together with table salt or stock cubes, the salt in your meal can double or even triple! Try unsalted flavours like cumin, coriander, paprika, curry powder, garlic, or mixed herbs. You can still add some salt to the meal but remember to taste first and only add a little.
4. Potato crisps for home-made popcorn
Crips are VERY salty and not something we should eat as a daily snack at work or at home. We can make popcorn at home in less than 10 minutes for an inexpensive and healthy snack. See the recipe here to flavour your popcorn and keep the salt low!
5. Be the best at breakfast
Although we think of them as having a sweet taste, breakfast cereals can have a lot of hidden salt we don’t taste. An easy swap is to choose a cereal that has no salt added, like choosing Weetbix lite without sugar and salt instead of the usual Weetbix. Or eat oats porridge instead of bran flakes. You can also look at the nutritional information on the cereal box and compare different cereals for their sodium content to choose the one lower in salt.
6. Swap cheese for cheese
Hard cheese, feta cheese and processed cheeses like cheese spread or cheese slices are very salty. One step better is using cottage cheese or sometimes eating unsweetened yoghurt instead.
7. Choose your fat carefully
Hard margarine or salted butter can have surprisingly high salt levels. Rather choose soft margarine to spread on bread or oil like canola when you are cooking.
8. Choose a fruit
The last swap is an easy one. Swop your usual snack of biscuits, crackers or biltong for a fruit. Fruits are super low in salt, and also high in healthy fibre, potassium and vitamins. Try to eat an extra fruit every day!