Salt Awareness Week 2006 aims to prevent salt-related deaths in black people

30th January

• Reducing salt to 6g a day or less cuts risk of stroke in black people by 45%, heart attack by 35%  
• CASH survey shows African and Caribbean foods very high in salt
• Celebrities support CASH campaign  

Black people of African or Caribbean descent living in the UK have a much higher risk of dying from a stroke than the average population – West African men have a premature death rate from stroke nearly three times (171%) higher than the average population, with West African women 81% more likely than average to die prematurely from a stroke.  Caribbean people living in the UK also have higher than average premature death rates from stroke – 68% higher for men and 57% higher for women (1).  

In many cases these strokes are caused by raised blood pressure resulting from excess salt in the diet.  New research by Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) (2), shows that black people who reduce their salt intake to below the recommended 6g a day will cut their risk of stroke by almost a half (45%) and their risk of heart attack by over a third (35%).    

Previous research has suggested that black individuals have a greater blood pressure response to salt reduction than their white counterparts (3), and yet it seems that little has been done to alert black people in the UK to the specific health benefits they can achieve by cutting down on salt.

“I find it tragic that Stroke Units in our hospitals are full of relatively young African and Caribbean people,” says Graham MacGregor, Chairman of CASH and Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at St George’s Hospital in London.  “In many cases, these strokes could have been prevented simply by cutting down on salt, and this is the message we hope to get across during Salt Awareness Week 2006.”

Colin Jackson, Kwame Kwei-Armah and Ian Wright have lent their support to the CASH campaign.  Colin Jackson said, “I am pleased that the dangers of salt intake with respect to raised blood pressure, which result in greater risk of having strokes and heart disease in the African Caribbean population, are been highlighted in the forthcoming Salt Awareness Week from Consensus Action on Salt and Health. I fully support their event.”  Ian Wright added, “I am very happy to do whatever I can to highlight that a high salt intake is dangerous to us.”

Salty foods
CASH has also analysed several popular African and Caribbean meals (4) and discovered that their salt content is extremely high – Fried fish and yam pottage contained 10.75g of salt in a single serving, Jollof rice and Suya chicken contained 10.27g for a single serving and Calypso chicken with rice contained 9.34g in a serving.  

“All except one of the African and Caribbean meals we bought and analysed contained over 6g of salt in a single serving,” said Dr Emma Mast, Project Co-ordinator for CASH.  “This is more than a whole day’s salt limit in a single meal, which suggests that many black people following traditional diets will be eating three or four times the recommended levels of salt, and putting their health in jeopardy.”

“As well as checking the labels of foods bought in shops, people should be careful not to add salt to their cooking at home,” continues Dr Mast.  “Stock cubes and cooking sauces are also high in salt, so they should be avoided.  And many traditional foods are preserved in salt, such as salt fish and meat.  If alternatives to these cannot be found, they should be soaked in several changes of water before being cooked, to remove as much of the salt as possible.”

Salt Awareness Week runs from January 29th to February 4th.  Health professionals, schools, pharmacists, caterers and nutritionists around the country have requested over 600 Salt Awareness Packs. These will be used to support the many local Salt Awareness Events that will take place during the Week.
• For more information and research on the role of salt in hypertension, please go to

Notes to editors:
• Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) is a group of the UK’s leading experts on salt and its effects on health.  It is working to reach a consensus with the food industry and government over the harmful effects of a high salt diet, and bring about a reduction in the amount of salt in processed foods as well as salt added to cooking and at the table, so that salt intake in the UK is reduced in adults to below 6g a day, and less for children.
1. Coronary Heart Disease Statistics, British Heart Foundation 2005

2. These calculations of reduction in risk for black people of African descent are based on two papers, one published in the Lancet (Prospective Studies Collaboration Lancet 2002:360:1903-1913) and one published in Annals of Internal Medicine (Vollmer et al, Annals of Internal Medicine 2001; 135 (12), 1019-1028).

The first paper carries out a sub-analysis of recruits who are of black African descent as part of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) – Sodium Trial. From this study we estimated that a reduction of 6g/day in salt intake (e.g. from the current intake of 12g/day to the recommended level of 6g/day) would cause a fall in systolic blood pressure of 12 mmHg in this population.

The second paper is a meta-analysis of one million adults in 61 prospective studies looking at the relationship between blood pressure and cardiovascular risk. With the information on systolic blood pressure from this meta-analysis, we calculated the reductions in stroke and ischaemic heart disease that would occur with a fall in systolic of 12 mmHg.

3. Svetkey LP et al.  Effects of dietary patterns on blood pressure: subgroup analysis of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) randomized clinical trial. Arch Intern Med. 1999;159:285-293.

4. African and Caribbean meals surveyed from five takeaway outlets in the London area: January 2006

The sodium analysis was carried out by Chorleywood and Campden Research Association, Gloucestershire.


TypeName of mealNet weightSalt in Meal
Brown fish stew 686g9.14g
Meal 2

Curry mutton

Meal 3
Jerk Chicken333g4.41g
Rice and peas


Starter/side dish
Spicy chicken wings510g8.16g
Meal 4
Beef stew with rice770g7.51g
Meal 5
Calypso chicken with rice812g9.34g
Jollof rice and Suya chicken790g10.27g
Meal 2
Fried fish245g5.21g
Mashed bean and fried yam523g3.14g
Total 8.34g
Meal 3
Fried fish297g5.94g
Yam pottage356g4.81g
Total 10.75g
Meal 4
Goat meat167g3.63g
Jollof rice with plantain623g4.52g
Total 8.15g
Meal 5
Chicken 234g0.85g
Jollof rice659g5.85g
Total 6.70g
Meal 6
Jollof rice564g5.64g
Total 6.22g