How to reduce your salt intake

There are a number of simple ways that you can reduce your salt intake. By understanding the truth behind some common salt myths, learning how to read labels and understanding which foods are high in salt, you can watch  what you’re eating at home and when you’re eating out.

Knowing which foods contain a lot of salt is a great place to start when it comes to lowering your salt intake. About a quarter of salt is added during cooking and at the table and very small amounts are present naturally in most foods, but most of our salt intake (75- 80%) is hidden in ready-prepared or processed food and food bought from takeaways and restaurants.

Give yourself time to adjust

Many of us have developed a preference for salty flavours due to years of eating manufactured foods with a high salt content as well as the use of salt as seasoning. Initially when you reduce your salt intake foods tend to taste bland, but after two or three weeks you will start to taste the real and delicious flavour of natural food. Give yourself time to adjust. In the tips for eating at home, you’ll find alternative ways of adding flavour to your food.

Foods that contain salt

It can be surprising which foods add the most salt to our diets. Everyday foods which push up our salt intakes include bread, salads, sandwiches, soups, processed and smoked meat and fish, cheese, cooking sauces and table sauces.

See our healthy shopping guide and the tables below to see which foods are high, low and medium in salt, so you can make simple swaps. Our tips for eating at home and eating out, and our low salt recipes, will show you where you can make positive changes.

We carry out food product surveys which show just how much, or how little, salt can be contained in popular products such as sausages, salads, bread and soups. Click here to see our salt surveys.

The National Diet & Nutrition Survey, published annually, shows the percentage contribution of various foods to the total amount of salt (and other nutrients) in our diet. Some foods that we eat every day are not particularly high in salt, but because we eat them often, are responsible for a large part of our daily salt intake. The latest survey shows that bread adds more salt to our diet than any other food, responsible for a fifth of our salt intake 18%! For more information click here

NDNS 2011 - Children's diet summary

NDNS 2011 - Adult diet summary

Foods that are often high in salt

Anchovies
Bacon
Cheese
Chips (if salt added)
Coated chicken e.g. nuggets
Corn snacks e.g. Wotsits
Gravy granules
Ham
Noodle snacks pots
Olives
Pickles
Potato snacks e.g. Hula Hoops
Prawns
Salami
Salted and dry roasted nuts
Salt fish
Sausages
Smoked meat and fish
Soy sauce
Stock cubes and bouillon
Yeast extract e.g. Marmite

 

Foods where some brands are high in salt

Baked beans
Biscuits
Burgers
Breakfast cereals
Bread and bread products
Cakes and pastries
Cooking sauces
Crisps
Filled pasta
Pasta sauces
Pizza
Potato croquettes
Ready meals
Soup
Sandwiches
Sausages
Tinned pasta
Tomato Ketchup

 

Foods that are low in salt

Breakfast cereals*
e.g. Shredded Wheat
Couscous
Eggs
Emmental
Fresh fish
Fresh meat and poultry
Fromage frais
Fruit and Vegetables (dried, fresh, frozen and tinned)**
Homemade bread*
Homemade sauces*
Homemade soup*
Mozzarella
Pasta and Rice
Plain cheese spreads
Plain cottage cheese
Plain popcorn
Porridge oats
Pulses (peas, beans, lentils)**
Ricotta
Seeds
Unsalted nuts
Yogurt

* with no added salt
** choose tinned products with no added salt

How you can help us all eat less salt

Whether you are a chef, a restaurant owner, a food manufacturer or a customer wanting to eat less salt, we would welcome your support of our campaign. By getting involved in this campaign you would be helping CASH to bring about a reduction in the salt contained in food which will help to reduce the number of people suffering from heart attacks, strokes and numerous other diseases. See more about how you can get involved with salt reduction.