The amount of hidden salt in everyday Australian foods has risen by nearly ten per cent in three years, according to findings released today by The George Institute for Global Health.
Researchers looked at around 28,000 food products and found that, on average, salt levels increased by 9% between 2008 and 2011 although there were significant reductions in certain categories and by some food companies.
Bread – yes bread – gave Americans the most sodium in their diets, according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey released Tuesday.
"The Heart Foundation is very concerned about hidden salt in our food, which is why we're pushing for salt reductions across numerous food categories as part of the Federal Government's Food and Health Dialogue," said Dr Robert Grenfell, National Cardiovascular Health Director at the Heart Foundation.
"The Dialogue's work in the bread sector alone is removing around 1,000 tonnes of salt every year. That's been reflected in this research which shows an eight per cent reduction in salt in the bread category.
"While that's a good start, increased funding is desperately needed to introduce targets for more food categories more quickly," Dr Grenfell said.
The average Australian eats around nine grams of salt a day, much more than the maximum of six grams recommended by the Heart Foundation for healthy Australians and four grams for people with existing high blood pressure or heart disease.
"Cutting the nation's salt intake by three grams a day would prevent an estimated 6,000 deaths a year from heart disease and stroke ," Dr Grenfell added.
"Eating too much salt can cause high blood pressure and increases the risk of heart disease, the number one killer of Australian men and women.
"Most of the salt we eat isn't added at the table, it's hidden in foods we eat every day like bread, breakfast cereals, canned food and pasta sauces.
"Shoppers concerned about the amount of salt in foods can look for products with the Heart Foundation Tick as a healthier choice," Dr Grenfell said.
For more information about salt and high blood pressure, visit www.heartfoundation.org.au or call the Health Information Service on 1300 36 27 87.
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