Sodium chloride

Sodium chloride is commonly known as salt. Salt is found naturally at low levels in all foods, but high levels are added to many processed foods such as ready meals, meat products such as bacon, some breakfast cereals, cheese, some tinned vegetables, some bread and savoury snacks.

How much do I need?

It's very difficult to eat too little salt! Most people in the UK eat much more salt than we should. On average we're eating 9.5g salt (about 3.7g sodium) a day, but we should be having no more than 6 g salt (2.4g sodium).

A few practical tips for cutting down on salt:

  • Check food labels to choose those with less salt.
  • Choose tinned vegetables and pulses with no added salt where possible.
  • Be sparing with sauces, such as soy sauce, because these are often high in salt.
  • Eat fewer salty snacks, such as crisps and salted nuts.
  • Add less salt to cooking - use herbs and spices for flavour instead.
  • Choose low-salt stock cubes, or make your own stock.
  • Taste your food first and don't automatically add extra salt.

What does it do?

Sodium and chloride both help to keep the level of fluids in the body balanced.

Chloride helps the body digest the food we eat because it's an essential component of the juices in the stomach and intestines.

What happens if I take too much?

Having too much salt is linked with an increase in blood pressure (hypertension) and this increases our risk of strokes and heart attacks.

What is our advice?

On average, we're eating 3.5 g of salt more than we should each day.

The Agency advises people to cut down on salt and that sodium chloride should not be used in supplements.