Eating too much salt

High Salt intake affects more than just your Blood Pressure

The use of salt is part of everyone’s daily life.

Salt is also called sodium chloride with the main ingredients in salt being sodium, chloride and iodine. The essential minerals found in salt acts as important electrolytes in the human body, assisting with fluid balance, nerve transmission and muscle function.

Salt Effects

Consuming too much sodium may raise blood pressure because a high level of sodium in the blood can result in an increased water volume and therefore a greater pressure in the arteries. Too much sodium can also damage blood vessels, the heart, kidneys and the brain.

Reducing salt intake is essential for your health:

  • Limit your salt (sodium) intake to no more than 1 tsp/day (2000mg sodium) in total
  • Avoid food with a high sodium content
  • Tinned products
  • Packet and canned soups
  • Aromat, gravy powder, meat – and vegetable extract or cubes
  • Processed meat and cheese
  • Salted chips, nuts and popcorn

Healthy Alternatives to flavor food:

  • A slice of lemon or lemon juice
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Tabasco Sauce
  • Garlic, ginger, peppers, dry mustard, pepper, onion, mushrooms, tomatoes, parsley
  • Moderate amounts of wine and fruit juice can be added to meat
  • Fresh herbs like turmeric, oregano, rosemary and marjoram
  • Some spices like curry and cinnamon can also be used, check the label for sodium content

Limit your intake of the following high sodium (salt) food products:

  • Processed meats: Chicken loaf, ham, meatloaf, polony, salami, frankfurters, Russions, Vienna’s, “boere-wors” and other sausages.
  • Smoked cured, salted or canned meat, fish or poultry: Bacon, corned beef, cold cuts, ham, sausages, pickled meats, anchovies, herring, haddock, kippers, pilchards, salmon, sardines, snoek, tuna, biltong, and dried sausage.
  • Cheeses: Cheddar, cream cheese, Camembert, Feta, Gouda, Brie, Parmesan, cheese spreads. (Limit the use of cheese to 3 times per week).
  • Milk products: Buttermilk, malted milk.
  • Starch products: Instant hot cereals (Tasty wheat, Oats-o-easy), commercial cereals (All Bran, Special K, Muesli, Weetbix, Corn Flakes, Rice Crispies, use in moderate amounts: 2-3 times per week), meat pies savoury tarts, quiches, savoury biscuits (Tuc, Salty Cracks, Bacon Kips etc.), salted nuts and peanuts, potato chips, Pretzels, salted popcorn, instant pasta and rice mixes (Pasta & sauce, savoury rice mixes).
  • Rising agents: Baking powder, self-raising flour, bicarbonate of soda or instant commercial mixes that contain baking powder or bicarbonate of soda (Muffin mix, Pancake mix, cake mix, biscuits etc.).
  • Vegetables: Canned vegetables and frozen vegetables in a sauce. Pickled vegetables e.g. Olives, gherkins and pickled onions.
  • Savoury soya mixes: Vitamince, Imana, Knorrox etc.
  • Salted butter or margarine: (Use margarine in moderation)
  • Sauces: Chutney, chili sauce, mayonnaise, soya sauce, salad dressings, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Flavourants: Salt, Aromat, Fondor, flavoured salt – garlic salt or onion salt etc., Bisto, instant sauce and gravy mixes e.g. Savoury brown onion gravy powder or mushroom gravy powder. Meat- and vegetable extract powder or cubes (Oxo, Knorrox etc.). Make your own stock without adding salt and freeze in ice trays for later use. Meat tenderiser, Tomato puree, tomato sauce and tomato paste, Snack dips for crisps.
  • Soup powders and canned soup
  • Sandwich spreads: Bovril, Marmite, Sandwich spread, fish pate, liver spread or other meat spreads, cheese spreads.
  • Fast food and convenience foods: All frozen instant meals or TV meals that only require reheating. Take-aways: hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, pizzas, meat pies, toasted sandwiches, fried fish in batter.
  • Antacids (Rennies tablets etc.)

PLEASE NOTE: Use moderate salt during food preparation (1⁄2 teaspoon per day).

Use other methods to flavour food (Examples in table) or make your own spice using examples form the table.


Look out for the following names and try to avoid those products:

Preservatives: Salt, Sodium benziate, Sodium nitrate, Mono-sodium-glutamate (MSG), Sodium phosphate, sodium bicarbonate.

Authors: Tanya Alberts (RD) SA and Joani Britz (RD) SA

About the author:

Tanya has been providing dietary guidance since 2009 as a registered dietician licensed in South Africa. Her goal is to help patients understand the connection between diet and diagnosis for improved nutritional well being.

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