Unpack the salt


Dana Thomson, Health Promotion Officer at healthAbility in Eltham and trained public health dietitian#, has kindly agreed to provide this website with regular notes on nutrition topics.

If it’s packed, chances are it’s packed with salt. In August 2017, the Heart Foundation launched an awareness campaign about the excessive amount of hidden salt in processed foods. The campaign website www.unpackthesalt.com.au has some great tips, recipes and campaign materials. For example, the top 10 salt shockers are:

  1. Bread.
  2. Cooking sauces.
  3. Ready meals.
  4. Processed meats.
  5. Dips and crackers.
  6. Dressings and condiments.
  7. Pizza.
  8. Cheese.
  9. Baked goods.
  10. Aussie favourites: baked beans, instant noodles, etc.

The four top tips to cut down salt are:

  • Read the labels – (and look out for ‘no salt’, ‘low salt’ or ‘reduced salt’).
  • Choose the right packaged food – e.g. frozen are lower salt than canned.
  • Stop adding salt at the dinner table.
  • Eat fresh – fresh fruit and veg are naturally low in salt.

Other key facts include:

  • As discussed in a flyer entitled Get the facts: the role of sodium in your food, sodium plays many roles in our foods, mainly to enhance flavour, to preserve freshness and to improve texture/appearance.
  • Excessive salt intake can be directly linked to high blood pressure, which increases the risk of stroke, heart and kidney disease.
  • Victorians consume almost double the maximum daily salt intake of five grams recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Victorian children eat about 30% more salt than recommended.
  • Around 75% of salt in our diets comes from processed foods like cooking sauces, processed meats and ready meals.
  • Stroke, heart and kidney disease caused by excess salt is preventable.
  • New research has found convenient cooking sauces to be packed with salt. For example, a fresh pasta sauce from the supermarket can contain almost 1/3 of your daily maximum salt intake, with some tomato-based pasta sauces containing 90 times more salt than others.

# Dana is a trained public health dietitian (accredited with the Dietitians Association of Australia). In contrast to clinical or community dietitians who mostly see patients/clients or run nutrition education groups, her objectives are to support access, affordability and acceptability of healthier food for the whole population. As a Health Promotion Officer at healthAbility in Eltham, she works as part of a team to improve food supply and promote healthier eating across Nillumbik.

  2 Responses to “Unpack the salt”

  1. Great solution, Meg. Yes, draining and rinsing tinned food well under water is also noted in the tips section on the website http://www.unpackthesalt.com.au

  2. Good work. It is hard to buy tins of beans, chick peas, lentils etc without salt (or sugar) though it is possible. Our solution is to rinse the contents vigorously before using. Do you think this helps cut down on the salt? Tomato paste and tomato sauce is also tricky, though you can buy salt-less varieties.

 Leave a Reply