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 – that’s 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 them as part of a healthy balanced diet but don’t have as much or eat them too often.
Foods that are usually high in salt
Foods where some brands/recipes are high in salt
Have these less often and eat smaller amounts
Check the labels and choose versions with the lowest amount of salt
salted and dry roasted nuts
seasonings and rubs
smoked meat and fish
bread products like crumpets, bagels and ciabatta
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)
Good to know
There are lots of ways to eat 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
Cured fish and meat can be high in salt so eat them less often or in smaller amounts
Choose unsmoked back bacon which can be lower in salt than smoked varieties
Cut down on salty snacks like crisps and nuts, replacing them with fruit and veg
Watch out for soy sauce, brown sauce, mayonnaise and ketchup – they are all high in salt