Less salt, more flavour
Average read time: 4 minutes
Life would be rather bland without salt! It’s the world’s most popular and commonly eaten seasoning, and has been produced, consumed, and traded for millennia. So important was salt to humans in ancient times – specifically as a method for preserving food – that it contributed to the rise of civilisation and ultimately helped shape world history.
We love salt because it makes food taste better: it’s an incomparable flavour enhancer, and makes bland ingredients more palatable.
It’s also an essential nutrient because it contains the element sodium, which is needed in small quantities by the human body for many important physiological processes, including maintaining the proper balance of water and minerals, the transmission of nerve impulses, and nutrient absorption.
So we all need salt – but not too much! Most people eat more salt than is good for them – on average, 9 to 12 grams per day, according to the . ‘Salt intake of less than 5 grams per day for adults helps to reduce blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and coronary heart attack,’ says WHO. ‘The principal benefit of lowering salt intake is a corresponding reduction in high blood pressure.’
Five grams of salt is just under one teaspoon, which may not seem like a lot when divided across three meals a day. However, it’s important to recognise that many foods contain ‘hidden’ salt, among them smoked and cured meats, bread, tinned foods, frozen convenience foods, cheese, pickles, salted snacks, and all sorts of condiments and sauces.
Sodium is also naturally present in some whole foods, including shellfish, dairy products, and vegetables, and this extra salt counts towards WHO’s recommended daily intake of less than 5 grams per day.
Cutting down on sodium isn’t easy, especially if you have a ‘salt tooth’. Here are some simple strategies for reducing your salt intake, without having to feel that no food will ever taste good again!
Tips for Reducing Salt in Your Diet
- Eat more home-cooked meals. When you cook from scratch, you can control how much salt you add, whereas convenience foods and take-aways, for example, may contain an unknown quantity of sodium.
- Using less salt doesn’t mean your food will taste insipid. Get creative with seasonings that add layers of complex flavour to your meals: fresh and dried herbs, whole and ground spices, and punchy veggies such as ginger, garlic, onions, chillies, and horseradish. Lemon juice, vinegar, wine, fruit juice, and flavoured oils (such as sesame or walnut oil) are also great flavour enhancers.
- Taste your food before you reach for the salt shaker. If it does need salt, add just a little. It may take several weeks for your palate to get used to less sodium, but your tastebuds will adjust in time, to the point where you may find you no longer crave salty food.
- Carefully read the nutrition information of food packaging so you can identify products that are high in sodium.
- Opt for foods marked ‘low in sodium’. Interestingly, the South African Government was the first in the world to implement legislation aimed at reducing sodium levels at a manufacturing level, in a wide range of processed food categories, including bread.
- Look out for low-sodium or sodium-free salt substitutes in your local supermarket or health shop.
- It’s important to note that there’s no difference between table salt, sea salt or rock salt – they’re all high in sodium.
Unilever’s Position on Salt
As one of the world’s largest food manufacturers, we have a responsibility to offer products that , and consequently have the duty to reduce the amount of salt across our portfolio. We started our sodium reduction journey in 2003, in an effort to help consumers limit their daily salt intake to the WHO maximum intake recommendation of 5 gram per day. We continue to progress on this journey as explicitly stated in our most recent initiative.
Knorrox Cubes – now with Reduced Salt!
We have reduced the salt in all our Knorrox stock cubes, so go ahead and use them with confidence in your stews, sishebos, and curries!