2 in 5 Aussies think salt is heart-healthy
The Heart Foundation is urging Australians to “shake off” the salt in their diets, as new research reveals that too many people still believe it can be part of heart-healthy eating.
The research surveyed more than 1000 Australian adults and found two in five agreed that salt is okay to be used to add flavour to foods in heart-healthy eating.
And in recent Heart Foundation HeartWatch data, just two in five people were aware that a poor diet increases their risks for heart disease, with males and people aged 45 or over even less likely to be aware of this risk.
As we kick off World Salt Awareness Week (March 8-14), Heart Foundation dietitian Sian Armstrong says it’s concerning that people still believe salt is okay in heart-healthy eating. She warns that regularly consuming too much salt can lead to high blood pressure.
“High blood pressure is known as a ‘silent killer’ because there are no obvious signs or symptoms that you have it, but it can put you at higher risk of a heart attack or stroke,” she says. “As people get older, it can increase over time.
“The good news is high blood pressure can be controlled by following a heart-healthy eating pattern that is naturally low in salt, added sugars, saturated and trans fats, together with other lifestyle changes and, if advised by your doctor, taking medication.”
Armstrong says the best way to manage how much salt you eat is cooking fresh, heart-healthy meals with a colourful mix of vegies, fruits and whole grains like brown rice or wholemeal couscous. Throw in some proteins that are good for your heart like fish, seafood or lentils; use healthy fats and cut back on foods with hidden salt like processed foods.
“You don’t need to add salt to pack a flavour punch in meals,” Armstrong says. “Cooking with fresh or dried herbs, spices, garlic or black pepper adds a tasty tang to any dish.
“Our tastebuds do adjust over time to less salt in foods. And creating your own pasta sauces or salad dressings rather than using store-bought versions packed with salt is not only satisfying but also helps to reduce your salt intake.”