04 December 2007

Woolworths zooms in on salt risks

Woolworths has announced that it has reformulated many of its recipes, resulting in a dramatic reduction of 35,2 tons of salt. The move highlights the dangers of a high-salt diet.

Woolworths has just announced that it has reformulated many of its recipes to reduce the salt content used in making over 100 of its own-brand products – a move that has resulted in a dramatic reduction of 35,2 tons of salt.

This once again highlights the dangers of a high-salt diet. So, to place the significance of the retailer's announcement in context, we answer a few frequently asked questions:

What’s the difference between salt and sodium?
Salt, or sodium chloride, is a chemical compound made up of the minerals sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl); 1g ordinary table salt contains 394mg sodium. In other words, table salt is approximately 40% sodium.

Do we need sodium in our diet?
Sodium is an essential mineral that cannot be produced by the body. Salt, including sodium chloride or table salt, helps maintain the body’s fluid balance.

It's also important for us to get the iodine in iodised salt as it helps our bodies to produce thyroid hormone.

Why is too much sodium dangerous?
Too much sodium in our diets may contribute to the risk of developing high blood pressure, which in turn could contribute to cardiovascular disease, including strokes, heart attacks, and heart failure.

Does sodium occur naturally in foods?
Sodium is naturally present in most agricultural products, but the content may vary due to influences such as soil condition. Various common additives also contribute sodium in processed foods as the additives are often sodium salts. For example, sodium nitrate is used in curing meat and sodium benzoate is used as a preservative in sauces and concentrated cordials.

What foods commonly contribute to high levels of sodium?
A 2005 study reported that bread is the main source of sodium in the South African diet. Fast foods, cured meats and salty snacks also often contain high levels of sodium. In addition, many dehydrated foods – such as instant soups, instant sauces and other foods that are reconstituted by adding water – also contain high levels of sodium.

What’s the recommended daily requirement for sodium?
The recommended daily sodium intake is less than 2 400mg per day. This equates to about 6g of ordinary table salt – that’s a little more than a teaspoon.

However, there are variations in the way salt affects different people. Some people may require slightly higher levels, while others are very sensitive to salt content in food. Reducing the amount of “hidden” salt in food will help you to adapt your intake to suit their needs.

- (liquidlingo Communications, Health24, December 2007)

Read more:
Top 10 foods with hidden salt


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