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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How much sodium/ salt should we consume per day?

    Related Topic
    I think my partner and i eat too much sodium, how much is allowed per day and what levels of sodium should we look out for in processed foods?
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  • Nicole Senior

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    I'm an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist, consultant, author, speaker and food and health enthusiast. I love talking and writing about food and health.(please note, ... View Profile

    The short answer to this question is, probably less than you eat now! Unfortunately it is all too easy to overconsume sodium (salt) these days because there are such high levels in many packaged foods, take-away and restaurant meals. Even if you don't add salt to food yourself, it is already lots in the prepared foods you buy. There's some great information available from www.awash.org.au
    The optimal amount of sodium to eat each day to reduce your risk of chronic disease is 1600mg (this is the Suggested Dietary Target, or SDT), however there is another more commonly used level called the Upper Limit (UL) and this is 2300mg. Sodium content is listed in food labels in the Nutrition Information Panel (NIP), and the Upper Limit is used for calculating Percentage Daily Intake (%DI) you see on many food labels. Frighteningly, some fast food meals contain the entire SDT in one meal!
    Contrary to popular belief, we don't actually need to eat salt at all because there is more than enough sodium for our needs naturally present in fresh foods, however we do like the taste and have become used to food being salty. Its a good idea to cut down slowly so your palate has time to adjust. Check labels on packaged foods and choose reduced salt options. And remember a diet with 5 serves of vegetables, 2 serves of fruit and 2-3 serves of low-fat dairy foods like milk and yoghurt along with less sodium are ideal for lowering blood pressure. See more about the DASH diet for lowering blood pressure here.

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    Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris ... View Profile

    Great response by Nicole. The upper level of intake for sodium/salt is 2300 mg (or 2.3g) per day. This is about 1 teaspoon, not much once you think about it!

    As Nicole has mentioned try to cut down on processed and packaged foods containing salt, or choose the “reduced salt” varieties. Try to avoid adding extra salt to your meals at the table as well (remember that teaspoon?). Add some herbs and spices to enhance the flavours of your dish!

    When looking at food labels choose foods that contain less than 120 mg of sodium per 100 g.

    For more information on how to decrease the amount of sodium/salt in your diet, visit your local Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) who can help your to understand food labels and identify foods that are high in sodium or have “hidden salt”. Visit www.daa.asn.au to find an APD near you

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