Is salt dangerous?

A low-salt diet will help keep you safe from stroke.

What You Need to Know About Salt

Salt Reduction

Most New Zealanders eat too much salt, without realising it. This can lead to:

  • high blood pressure
  • strokes
  • heart disease
  • kidney disease
  • some cancers
  • obesity
  • osteoporosis.

How much salt should you be eating?

The World Health Organisation recommends a daily salt intake of between three to six grams (six grams is about one teaspoon). New Zealanders consume an average of nine grams of salt a day2.

What is the difference between salt and sodium?

Salt is made from the minerals sodium and chloride. Around 40 per cent of salt is sodium and 60 per cent is chloride. The body needs some sodium but too much can harm our health.

Three simple tips to reduce your salt intake:

  1. Increase your consumption of fresh unprocessed foods. Around 75 per cent of the salt we consume comes from processed or packages foods. The biggest offenders include processed meats, smoked foods, Marmite, foods canned in brine, takeaways, chips, instant noodles and sauces such as tomato, soy sauce and dressings. Breads, breakfast cereals, cheese, baked beans and crackers also contribute significantly to our daily salt intake as we tend to eat a lot of these foods.
  2. When buying processed packaged foods, check the nutrition information panel. Salt is listed as sodium. A low salt option will have less that 120mg of sodium per 100g of food. Click here if you want to know more about reading nutrition information panels
  3. Use herbs, spices and other seasonings instead of salt when cooking and at the table.

Want to know more about salt?

Download or order the following resources:

The Stroke Foundation is committed to salt reduction strategies. This includes efforts to reduce the amount of salt in processed foods and raise consumer awareness of ways to reduce salt in cooking and at the table. 

Much can be gained from reducing salt consumption, with global estimates suggesting that a 9.5 per cent reduction in salt consumption could prevent around 510,000 strokes. Consumer magazine has published an article highlighting the issue.

1. Smith-Spangler CM, Juusola JL, Enns EA, Owens DK, Garber AM. Population strategies to decrease sodium intake and the burden of cardiovascular disease: a cost-effectiveness analysis. Ann Intern Med. 2010 Apr 20;152(8):481-7.

2. University of Otago and Ministry of Health. A Focus on Nutrition: Key findings of the 2008/09 New Zealand Adult Nutrition Survey. 2011. Wellington: Ministry of Health.

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