Reduce your salt intake for better health

THIS will make you sit up and think; 75% of the salt we eat has already been added to our food before we buy it.

The Heart Foundation's Unpack the Salt consumer awareness campaign was launched this week in response this worrying research finding.

The recommended maximum daily salt intake for an adult is 5g, or just about one teaspoon, and for a child it's much less.

But why worry about how much? Well, too much salt can put you at risk of a heart attack and stroke.

Back in the supermarket researchers from the George Institute for Global Health, VicHealth and the Heart Foundation looked at products we buy all too often to enhance cooking such as pasta sauces, Indian and Asian-style pastes, refrigerated and powdered recipe-based sauces such as casserole and curry mixes.

Of these 2215 products sold in four major supermarkets - Coles, Woolworths, ALDI and IGA - between 2010 and 2017, they were found to be packed with salt, with some brands nearly 100 times worse than other brands.

Barilla Olive pasta sauce was a standout; it was 90 times saltier than Tenuta Fragassi Sugo Pronto Napoletana Neapolitan Style Pasta Sauce.

Another one was McCormicks powder-based sauces which were found to have the highest salt content of all cooking sauces, and Tenuta Fragassi tomato-based cooking sauces the least.

Heart Foundation Victoria CEO Kellie-Ann Jolly said the link between a high salt diet and high blood pressure is clear-cut, leading to an increased risk of heart disease.

"High blood pressure causes 32 per cent of heart disease and stroke in Australia and currently, there are close to six million adult Australians living with high blood pressure - that's over a third of our adult population," Ms Jolly said.

How can we reduce our salt intake?

• Eat more fresh foods and reduce your reliance on processed and packaged foods.

• Read the product labels. Sodium is one component of salt - it is the sodium that is labelled on nutrition information panels on packaged foods

• Use the 'per 100g' column on food packaging labels to compare the sodium content of different brands

• For cooking sauces, aim for less than 400mg sodium per 100g

• When using packaged sauces, try using less - for example, use only half of the packet or jar to reduce the amount of salt you will eat. You can always top up with extra herbs, and vegetables

• Use the free FoodSwitch app for scanning packaged food barcodes to find out the sodium content of the product. It will also give you options for healthier alternatives

• The Heart Foundation has a sodium and salt converter that easily allows you to convert the sodium listed on packaged foods into grams of salt, or vice versa.

For more details on Unpack the Salt, go to

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