I should co­coa? Even a sweet treat can con­tain hid­den salt

The Sunday Post (Inverness) - - Advice -

Per­haps it’s be­cause the weather is slightly cooler but I was in the mood for a mug of co­coa.

As I browsed the jars of hot choco­late at the local su­per­mar­ket, I idly glanced at the nu­tri­tion la­bel.

Fair enough – I ex­pected the su­gar con­tent to be high. It was – but we’re all al­lowed treats now and then.

But what sur­prised me was the amount of salt – one gram per 100g.

I worked out that the large mug I wanted for elevenses would con­tain one tenth of the rec­om­mended daily limit. It doesn’t seem that much, does it? But with the amount of salt which is sneaked into our food – in un­ex­pected places like hot choco­late – it can quickly add up.

In 2002 the av­er­age daily salt in­take in this country was 9.5g.

A decade later, we’d thank­fully managed to re­duce that to 8.1g per per­son.

It doesn’t sound much like we’re mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion. And it’s much needed.

A high salt in­take is as­so­ci­ated with high blood pres­sure, which can lead to stroke, heart at­tack and heart fail­ure.

That small re­duc­tion of 1.4g per per­son?

That’s thought to have saved around 8500 lives per year.

Ex­perts reckon it has re­duced heart-re­lated health prob­lems in 20,000 peo­ple ev­ery year.

The im­prove­ment in our health is mea­sur­able, and it’s less strain on our be­lea­guered NHS, too.

Re­duc­ing your own salt in­take means you can pre­vent or re­duce high blood pres­sure, so it’s worth keeping it down to less than 6g – about a tea­spoon – per day.

But as the hot choco­late demon­strates, this is dif­fi­cult given salt, the great preser­va­tive, is in­cluded in so much of the processed food we buy.

So keep an eye on the nu­tri­tion la­bels, most of which have the handy wee traf­fic light sys­tem on them.

Things like soy sauce, pick­les and ketchup can con­tain a wor­ry­ingly high level of salt, so be care­ful with them.

Stock cubes are salty too – so you might not want to add too many when mak­ing soup.

Herbs and spices are a tasty al­ter­na­tive.

You might feel you “need” salt – but your sense of taste will ad­just.

It only takes a few weeks – so stick with it.

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