Common table salt is a mineral made up primarily of sodium chloride. These minerals are essential to health, as, without them, you will not be able to survive. However, too much sodium can raise blood pressure, have serious health consequences and is associated with many diseases.
Despite what many people think, using the salt shaker is not the main cause of too much sodium in the diet. In fact, 77% of dietary sodium comes from eating packaged and restaurant foods, whereas only a small portion (11%) comes from salt added to food when cooking or eating.
- 5% added during cooking
- 6% added while eating
- 12% from natural sources
- 77% from processed foods and prepared foods
The Processed Food Industry relies heavily on salt for many reasons:
- Salt does add flavour, but it also masks certain bad tastes. For example, tinned soup without added salt can often have bitter and metallic tastes, but the salt in the final product covers it up.
- Dozens of sodium-based compounds are added to processed food to delay the onset of bacterial decay, to bind ingredients, and to blend mixtures that otherwise come unglued, like protein and fat molecules in processed cheese.
Is there a ‘bliss point’ when it comes to salt?
In the formulation of food products, the bliss point is the amount of an ingredient such as salt, sugar, or fat which optimizes palatability.
Salt does have a bliss point for each person, but it appears to be somewhat flexible and it can increase through increased salt intake – so the more you eat, the more you need to eat to keep the bliss point.
Top 10 Sources of Sodium
10 processed food groups account for 70% of sodium intake
- Bread and Rolls
- Cold cuts and processed meats
- Chicken (fast foods)
- Pasta dishes
- Meat dishes
- Snacks e.g. crisps