Two thirds of us eat too much salt. Around 75% of salt we eat comes from everyday foods like bread, breakfast cereal and ready meals.

Too much salt can raise blood pressure and increase the risk of developing heart disease or stroke. Adults should have no more than 6g of salt per day – roughly the same as one teaspoon per day. Children should have less.

Babies and children

Babies and children under 11 should have less salt than adults. The amount per day depends on age:

  • 1 to 3 years: 2g a day (0.8g sodium)
  • 4 to 6 years: 3g a day (1.2g sodium)
  • 7 to 10 years: 5g a day (2g sodium).

Good to know

Restricting salt when children are little can mean they won’t develop as much of a taste for salt as they grow up.

Foods with added salt

Some foods are naturally high in salt because of the way they’re made. You can still enjoy these as part of a healthy balanced diet, but try not to eat as much of them.

These foods are usually high in salt, so try to eat them less often and in smaller amounts:

  • anchovies
  • bacon
  • cheese
  • curry pastes
  • gravy granules
  • ham
  • olives
  • pickles
  • prawns
  • salami
  • salted and dry roasted nuts
  • seasonings and rubs
  • smoked meat and fish
  • soy sauce
  • stock cubes
  • yeast extract

Depending on the brand or recipe, these foods are sometimes high in salt, so check the label and choose the lower-salt options:

  • bread products like crumpets, bagels and ciabatta
  • breakfast cereal
  • crisps
  • pasta sauces
  • pizza
  • ready meals
  • soup
  • sandwiches
  • sausages
  • tomato ketchup, mayonnaise and other sauces

Good to know

Checking labels and choosing low-salt versions of food is one of the easiest ways to cut down on salt. That’s because most of the salt we eat is already in our food rather than added at the table or to cooking.

Understand the label

The label tells you how much salt is in your food – aim to buy food that has a green or amber label for salt.

Salt and sodium

Salt is made of sodium and chloride – it’s also called sodium chloride. It’s the sodium that can damage our health. The amount of sodium in the product is usually included on the label as well as the total amount of salt. Sometimes the label only gives the amount of sodium, but it’s easy to work out how much salt is in the product. All you have to do is multiply the amount of sodium by 2.5.

  • Salt = sodium x 2.5

Adults should eat no more than 2.4g of sodium per day – that’s equal to 6g of salt (2.4g of sodium x 2.5 = 6g).

  • Low salt means there’s 0.3g salt or less per 100g (or 0.1g sodium)
  • Between 0.3g and 1.5g is a medium level of salt.
  • High salt means there’s more than 1.5g salt per 100g (or 0.6g sodium)

Some top tips for eating less salt: 

  • check food labels and choose those that contain less salt
  • add less salt when cooking – try adding black pepper, fresh herbs and spices
  • make your own stocks and gravy instead of using stock cubes or powders
  • taste food before adding salt
  • eat cured fish and meat less often or in smaller amounts
  • choose unsmoked back bacon which can be lower in salt than smoked varieties
  •  replace salty snacks like crisps and nuts with fruit and veg
  • watch out for soy sauce, brown sauce, mayonnaise and ketchup – they are all high in salt

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