Image via: brambleberry.com
The National Stroke Foundation, The George Institute, AWASH and C-PAN are working together in partnership to deliver important messages about reducing salt and the prevention of stroke.
AWASH Key Findings Report March 2012
Processed foods available in Australian supermarkets supply 75% of dietary salt. Although some manufacturers have reduced salt levels in foods there are wide variations in the salt content of comparable foods. Interpreting the food label to understand salt content is difficult for many consumers which makes identifying healthier choices hard.
We examined the effect on a typical daily diet of switching from higher to lower salt products in six categories of processed foods: breads, cereals, sauces and spreads, meat products, convenience foods and dairy. We used the recently launched FoodSwitch app to identify the lower salt alternates.
Switching to healthier, lower salt equivalent products can save 5g of salt each day A diet with 5g less salt would reduce the risk of stroke by almost a quarter.
Savings start with breakfast where almost one half of a gram of salt could be saved by switching to a healthier option:
Kellogg’s Just Right Barley & Berry Flavour was 94% less salty than Kellogg’s Special K Forest Berries.
For a morning snack of crisp-bread and peanut butter failing to make the smart choice will result in four times more salt Coles Crunchy Peanut Butter No Added Salt had 96% less salt per serve than Kraft Crunchy Peanut Butter.
Switching to the healthier option of Ryvita Multigrain Wholegrain Rye Crispbread from an Arnott’s Sao Biscuit, meant 67% less salt.
Healthier ingredients for a homemade lunch comprising one sandwich wrap with a ham, cheese and pickle filling could save 1.4g of salt. Most of this was achieved by choosing the right ham and bread product Switching to Don Shaved Light Leg Ham from Primo Premium Shaved Leg Ham saved 0.6g of salt. Wattle Valley Soft Wraps Wholegrain was over half a gram saltier compared to Freedom Foods Norganic Multigrain Wraps
There was a three-fold difference in the salt content of the fruit filled bars for an afternoon snack Weight Watchers Raspberry Pie Bar had 0.1g salt/serve compared to Coles Fruit Filled Bar (Apple & Cinnamon) (0.3g salt/serve).
The biggest saving of the day was the pasta dinner where 2.4g of salt was saved by switching to a lower salt dish Lean Cuisine Steam Beef and Mushrooms with Pasta Steams in Minutes (1.4g salt/serve) has hugely less salt than Pastabilities Ravioli Beef with Caramelised Onion and Red Wine in Cracked Black Pepper (3.8g salt/serve).
See Video of findings here thanks to ninemsn.
Reducing salt intake, with the aim of lowering blood pressure and preventing heart disease and stroke, has been identified as one of the most cost effective options for improving public health. Following the recent United Nations High Level Meeting on preventing chronic disease, salt reduction, alongside tobacco control, was highlighted as a global health priority.
Each year World Action on Salt and Health coordinates World Salt Awareness Week to increase understanding of the harmful effects of salt on health. The theme for this year’s Salt Awareness Week(26th March – 1st April 2012) is Reducing salt: preventing stroke. A stroke occurs when part of the blood supply to the brain is cut off, reducing the amount of oxygen that can get to the brain and its effect is to suddenly and seriously reduce brain function causing a stroke.
There are two main types of stroke - ischaemic stroke caused by a blocked blood vessel which stops blood getting to the brain, and haemorrhagic stroke caused by a blood vessel burst and leakage of blood into the brain. Stroke is the second biggest cause of death after coronary heart disease and a leading cause of disability. In Australia there are an estimated 60,000 strokes per year with 30% of those affected dying within the first twelve months and only 10% making a full recovery.1 Stroke is estimated to cost Australia $2.14 billion / year.
The risk of stroke increases with age, and with an ageing population it is almost certain the incidence rate will increase unless action is taken.1 There are risk factors that can be targeted to reduce stroke, but the most important one is reducing blood pressure. Excess dietary salt consumption is one of the main causes of high blood pressure.
The Suggested Dietary Target (SDT)2 for salt intake is 4 grams / day and the maximum recommended intake is 6 grams /day. Most Australians eat between 8 and 10 grams / day with major adverse consequences for their health. Reducing salt intake by 5 grams / day (taking a level teaspoon of salt out of your diet) will reduce the risk of stroke by about a quarter. This would translate into thousands of strokes prevented in Australia every year.
The Australian Division of World Action on Salt and Health (AWASH) Drop the Salt! campaign was launched in May 2007 with three objectives - to reduce the salt content in foods, to change consumer behavior and to improve labelling of salt on products. Engagement with Federal and State Governments and the food industry is ongoing.
Most recently AWASH has launched the FoodSwitch app to help consumers make healthier food choices. Developed in partnership with Bupa Australia, FoodSwitch combines nutritional profiling from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and traffic light labelling criteria developed by the UK Food Standards Agency. The aim of FoodSwitch is to make choosing healthy foods easy to identify at a glance by presenting nutritional information in an interpretive traffic light format. Using FoodSwitch this report highlights how dietary salt can be reduced by 5 grams a day through switching to healthier foods of the same type.