As a population, Australians consume too much sodium – primarily in the form of salt.
More than three-quarters of the salt we eat comes from manufactured and pre-prepared foods, with the remainder from salt used at the table or added in cooking. Bread, processed meats, breakfast cereals, cheese and commercially-produced condiments and sauces are some of the largest contributors to salt intakes in Australia.
While the body needs some salt for good health, too much salt can be harmful. Excess salt consumption has been linked with an increased risk of high blood pressure (hypertension), which is in turn a risk factor for heart attack, kidney disease and stroke.
Reducing the amount of salt consumed can help lower high blood pressure. The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends that Australian adults limit their intake of salt to no more than 6 grams (or 1½ teaspoons) a day.
In the past it has been difficult for many individuals to meet this goal, given the widespread use of salt in manufactured and pre-prepared foods. The Food and Health Dialogue is seeking to address this issue by working with industry to reduce the amount of salt present in the Australian food supply.