Eating too much salt

High Salt Intake Affects More Than Just Your Blood Pressure

Many of us use salt in most foods and almost daily.

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

Having too much sodium may raise your 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. Therefor help prevent or manage high blood pressure by reducing or limiting salt in your diet.

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 do contain added salt, therefore be mindful when eating food from tins
    • Packet and canned soups normally contain extra salt
    • Aromat, gravy powder, meat or vegetable extract or cubes contain salt
    • Processed meat and cheese contain added salt
    • Salted chips, nuts and popcorn have added salt

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, commercial cereals (use in moderate amounts: 2-3 times per week), meat pies savoury tarts, quiches, savoury biscuits, 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.
  • 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., instant sauce and gravy mixes e.g. Savoury brown onion gravy powder or mushroom gravy powder. Meat- and vegetable extract powder or cubes. Make your own stock without adding salt and freeze in ice trays for later use. Meat tenderizer, 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

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


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.

Reach out to your nearest dietician for more information on managing your blood pressure and learning about salt and salt containing food.

Tanya Alberts Dietician & Associates 

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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