Today marks the start of World Nutrition and Hydration Week and CQUniversity Senior Lecturer in Nutrition, Dr Saman Khalesi is urging Aussies to think about what they are consuming, particularly when it comes to salt.
“Our body needs sodium to function properly, but most of us eat an excessive amount of it as salt (which contains 40 per cent sodium),” Dr Khalesi said.
Coincidently, this week is also Salt Awareness Week and Dr Khalesi said it was the perfect time for people to think about just how much salt they are consuming.
“Salt may add an extra bit of taste to food, but it also adds pressure to the blood vessels and the heart and increases calcium loss. In fact, even a slight reduction in daily salt intake may reduce the risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular events and bone loss.”
Dr Khalesi, who is also a Postdoctoral Fellow for the National Heart Foundation of Australia, said the majority of salt in food was ‘hidden’.
“Hidden salt in commercial food products can be masked by other tastes, making it difficult for us to understand how much salt we are consuming,” he explained.
“It is difficult to choose healthier commercial foods. Complex food labels, individual preferences and likes and dislikes – all need to be considered when planning to reduce salt intake,” he said.
Along with fellow researchers Dr Khalesi has developed a web-based salt education program called SaltED which interacts with consumers and provides personalised feedback on salt reduction.
“The program is developed as a result of collaboration with consumers and researchers, professionals and experts in the field.”
Now in its fourth phase, Dr Khalesi is calling on more Australians to participate in the project.
“If you have hypertension or consistent blood pressure readings of ≥130/85 mmHg and are at a loss on how to reduce your salt intake, we encourage you to participate in the free, online, six-week intervention study to help you reduce your salt intake and blood pressure,” he said.
“All you need is access to a computer or smartphone with internet access. Not only that, upon completion of the online intervention, you will receive a $50 Coles or Woolworth gift card.”
To find out more about the study and check your eligibility visit www.salted.org.au.