South Africans still clueless about salt content in food

Photo: AARP

How much salt is taken in on a daily basis? A prevention-minded pharma company conducted an online poll among men and women across the country in the weeks leading up to World Salt Awareness Week (4 – 10 March).

The findings revealed that a quarter of South Africans acknowledged being salt addicts, with 31% adding salt to their food ‘all the time’ and 37% ‘some of the time’. Most also still don’t have a handle on how much salt is used in popular foods such as cereal, yoghurt and chips.

While most food items don’t exceed the daily limit of 5g of salt per day, it is the combined amount of salt from all the foods we eat in a day that often amounts to eight times the recommended daily allowance, putting us in the red zone for heart disease.

“Our survey, which polled 245 men and women across the country, found that while more than 90% understood the link between hypertension and excessive salt consumption, very few actually knew just how much salt is contained in food that is consumed on an almost daily basis,” said Nicole Jennings, spokesperson for Pharma Dynamics.

In an effort to make the public more salt savvy, Pharma Dynamics has compiled a list of food that are typically high in salt:

Very high in salt Moderately high in salt Surprisingly contain salt
–   Cheese, flavoured cream cheese and cottage cheese
–   Tinned foods, especially those preserved in brine
–   Stock powders or cubes
–   Soup powders or tinned soups
–   Marinades or marinade powders
–   Olives and pickles
–   Any processed meat: polony, ham, salami, turkey, sausages, Viennas etc
–   Any takeaway fast foods, like burgers, fish and chips, crumbed chicken, pizzas and Chinese takeaway
–   Seasoning salts, like barbeque or chicken spice
–   Salty spreads, including margarine, butter, cheese spreads and meat spreads
–   Cured meat and fish: bokkoms, bacon, biltong, anchovies, corned beef
–   Instant noodles with flavouring
–   Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce
–   Crisps, salted biscuits and crackers and ready-made popcorn
–  Pre-prepared meals or convenience foods
–  Shop-bought biscuits, cakes and treats
–  Salad dressings and mayonnaise
–  Salted nuts
–  Ready-made desserts
–  Some yoghurts
–  Bread
–  Breakfast cereals

For nutritional advice and recipes that are low in salt, visit – Seithati Semenokane