Salt

This FAQs will give you information about how to eat less salt if you have kidney problems.  Some people may have medical reasons why they need different information. Always follow advice from your own dietitian or doctor.

Should I eat less salt?

Yes – most people eat too much salt.  The average person in the UK eats around 8g of salt per day.  Guidelines from the Food Standards Agency say we should eat no more than 6g of salt per day (or 1 teaspoon per day).  This is called the Guideline Daily Amount for salt (GDA).

Why should I reduce my salt intake?

Eating less salt can improve your blood pressure and slow down worsening of kidney function.

If you have been advised to limit how much you drink, eating less salt reduces fluid build-up in your body (oedema) and makes you feel less thirsty.

Should everyone with kidney problems reduce salt?

If you are unwell and finding eating difficult you may not need to limit salt at this time.  This means you can eat a wider variety of foods which will help you get enough nourishment.  Once you are feeling better and eating well, it is a good idea to eat less salt and fewer salty foods.

Where does the salt come from?

Around ¾ of the salt we eat comes from salt in manufactured foods.  We eat even more if we also add salt to food during cooking or at the table. 

Choose meals made from fresh ingredients.  Try not to add salt to food to help reduce the amount of salt you are eating.

I have seen salt substitutes in the supermarket – should I use them?

Salt substitutes such as LoSalt, Saxa So low, Solo and own brands ‘reduced sodium salt’ are usually made from both sodium chloride and potassium chloride.  When you have kidney problems potassium may build up in the blood stream and cause an irregular heartbeat.  Because of this, it is not recommended to use these salt substitutes.

Is sea salt or rock salt better than table salt?

No. All types of salt have the same health risks whether they are labelled as sea salt, rock salt or table salt.

How do I know which foods contain a lot of salt?

Many everyday foods may not appear salty but can contain high amounts of ‘hidden salt’. 

Check the label of the food you are buying to see how much salt it contains.  Food labels often show the salt content per 100g.  Many foods now also have a traffic light label to help you make a healthier choice.  This can help you to see if a food has high, medium or low amounts of salt.  Aim to eat mainly foods which have less than 0.3g salt per 100g or with a green traffic light symbol for salt.  You can use the following as a guide:

Salt table

The Change4Life Food Scanner can also help you check how much salt is in foods.  Scan the barcodes of more than 140,000 everyday products and the app shows you if it’s a healthy choice using the traffic light system.  The app is free to download Change4Life Food Scanner from Google Play  or Change4Life Food Scanner from Apple Store

How can I eat less salt?

• Check salt on food labels. Compare the labels on food packaging when buying everyday foods to find those lower in salt.  Aim to eat mainly foods which have less than 0.3g salt per 100g or with a green traffic light symbol for salt.  If you eat more than the portion size suggested on the label, you will be eating more salt

• Avoid adding salt in cooking and at the table.  Stock cubes, gravy granules, soy sauce, sauces and pickles also contain salt so try to use these less often.  Use pepper, vinegar, herbs, lemon, lime, onion, garlic, chilli and spices to add flavour instead

• Eat less cured, smoked or processed meat and fish such as ham, sausages, bacon, tuna in brine, ready meals.  Choose fresh meat, chicken, fish and eggs instead which are naturally low in salt

• Avoid salty snacks such as crisps, nuts, crackers.  Choose unsalted crisps, nuts and crackers or check labels for those lower in salt

How do I calculate the amount of salt in a specific portion?

There is no need to calculate the salt in your food for the rest of your life, but it can be useful to begin with to work out how much you’re having. Once you have a clear idea then you can start to reduce the amount of salt you’re eating, if you need to.

If you have a look on the back of a product there will be a per 100g column.

 

Nutrition information on products
This cheese contains 1.8g of salt per 100g.

First work out how much salt is in 1g of cheese.
1.8 divided by 100 = 0.018
So there is 0.018g of salt in 1g

Then multiply 0.018 by the number of grams you have eaten e.g. 30g
0.018 x 30 = 0.54g of salt

If you ate 75g of cheese:
0.018g x 75 = 1.35g of salt

If you ate 118g of cheese:
0.018g x 118 = 2.12g of salt

Where can I find recipes lower in salt?

Salt