Designer salt

It can look beautiful and taste a little different — but designer salt is still about 99% sodium chloride.
 
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  • Updated:5 Feb 2006
 

04.Salt quiz

Q1. Most of the salt in our diet comes from:

A Salt we shake on at the table.
B Salt that’s added during food processing.
C Salt that occurs naturally in foods.

B is the correct answer.

Salt that’s added during food processing. On average, about 75% of our salt intake comes from processed food. Fresh foods generally contain very little. Even saltwater fish has only about 80–100 mg of sodium per 100 g, and meat, such as lamb, has about the same. Fruit and vegetables have less — broccoli about 8 mg and apples about 2 mg of sodium per 100 g.
You’re unlikely to add much from a salt shaker. A study of people’s salt-shaking habits found that the amount they added depended more on the size of the hole than taste preferences.

Q2. Too much salt can cause:

A Diabetes.
B Tooth decay.
C High blood pressure.

C High blood pressure.

There’s now strong evidence that too much salt can cause high blood pressure (see Salt and high blood pressure). A high salt intake may also increase your risk of stomach cancer, which is particularly prevalent in Japan where they eat a lot of salt-preserved foods. On that basis, it’s better not to eat lots of salt-preserved foods such as anchovies and olives too often. There’s no evidence salt can cause diabetes or tooth decay.

Q3. Which has the most salt?

A Frozen green beans.
B Fresh green beans.
C Tinned green beans.

C Tinned green beans.

Fresh and frozen green beans contain very little salt, while tinned ones are often salted. The amount added can vary a lot between brands, so check the labels.

Q4. A bowl of cornflakes has about the same amount of salt as a small packet of potato crisps.

A True.

B False.

A is the correct answer.

Cornflakes are still one of the saltiest cereals around. For more information on the salt content of cereals, see Breakfast cereals

Q5. Celery salt and garlic salt don’t count. They’re made from vegetables, so I can have as much as I like.

A True.

B False.

B False.

Celery salt and garlic salt are only ordinary salt with some added flavours. They have almost the same sodium content as ordinary salt.

Q6. I’m a keen runner and compete in triathlons so I lose a lot of salt as sweat, especially in the summer months. I need plenty of salt on my food to avoid getting cramp.

A True.
B False.

B False.

We need sodium for transmitting electrical impulses through nerves and assisting in muscle contraction. But we only need 1–2 g of salt a day to replace salt lost from the body in sweat and urine. If you’re not eating a lot of salt your body adjusts and your sweat is less salty. There seems to be no basis to the common belief that lack of salt causes muscle cramps, and the Australian army no longer issues salt tablets to troops operating in tropical conditions.

Q7. You can always tell what foods are high in salt because they taste salty.

A True.
B False.

B False.

Some foods that are high in salt don’t taste very salty. Sometimes this is because they have a lot of sugar, such as some biscuits and breakfast cereals. And our taste buds get used to high levels of salt, so you might not notice the saltiness of some foods. Once you cut back on salt and come back to a food you used to eat you might be surprised at how salty it tastes.

Q8. Salt ‘brings out the flavour’ in food and it’s bland without it.

A True.
B False.

B False.

False in reality, though if you’re used to foods that are high in salt or add lots of salt to your food, you could find meals bland and uninteresting when you first cut down because our taste buds get used to high levels. If you persevere for a few weeks you can train them to taste food with less, and then you’re more likely to enjoy food with less salt or even with none at all. Salt can hide more subtle flavours, so you might prefer some foods when your taste buds have had time to adjust..

Q9. Only old people need to worry about how much salt they eat.

A True.
B False.

B False.

The association between salt and high blood pressure is certainly strongest for older people. But recent studies show that too much salt can raise your blood pressure at any age. It’s true that you have less chance of developing heart disease or a stroke in your 20s or 30s than when you’re older. But if you have high blood pressure when you’re young, you’re still at greater risk than someone the same age with normal blood pressure

Q10. You have to use salt in cooking. Recipe books tell you to use it — and so do the chefs on TV cooking shows.

A True.
B False.

B False.

True and false — salt in the cooking water makes vegetables soften quicker and pasta easier to cook to a perfect al dente, but in recipes it’s usually a matter of taste (see Question 8). Cooking with naturally salty foods like bacon or sausage is likely to make a bigger difference to the amount of salt you eat than adding salt to a recipe — and as with all things salt, less is healthier than more..

 

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