While most of us should use less salt, ie, less sodium, in our diets, we also need more iodine – impossible task or interesting challenge? Here are some tips to help you achieve both.
Nutritionists say first focus on lowering your sodium intake, then take a look at ensuring you are getting enough iodine.
Table salt in New Zealand is iodised to ensure we avoid the damaging effects of iodine deficiency, which was common here before the 1950s. However, most New Zealanders eat about 10 times more salt (sodium) than they need.
Foods high in salt include many takeaway foods, vegemite and marmite, pickled foods, soy sauce, many packet snacks such as crackers, and chippies and processed meats like bacon, luncheon sausage and salami.
Tips to lower salt (sodium) intake
- Choose low sodium foods where they are offered.
- Look for foods that contain less than 150mg sodium (Na) per serve (write this down and pop it in your wallet to retrieve when you are grocery shopping).
- To be labeled ‘low sodium’, foods need to have a ratio of equal to or less than 120mg of salt to every 100g.
- Remember low fat options often have more sodium!
- Use the taste test – add a little salt to your food and taste it before adding more.
- Find low-salt snacks you enjoy – fruit, unsalted nuts, plain, unsalted popcorn, yoghurt, biscuits and crackers low in sodium.
- Cook meals from scratch instead of eating packaged food.
- Eat more fresh and frozen foods. Sodium is frequently added to processed foods – sometimes in very large amounts.
- Use fresh herbs and spices to flavour food, eg, fresh herbs, garlic, mustard, coriander, lemon, mint, cumin etc.
- Cook food in minimal water or in the microwave, this helps to keep flavour so extra salt is not needed.
- Ask for no added salt when buying take-aways.
- Choose vegetables and fish in canned water without salt.
- Try weaning yourself off salt a bit at a time – it's easier to get to your goal.
- Limit intake of sausages and salamis.
- Reduce intake of dehydrated foods, such as seasoning mixes and soups.
- Make bread at home in a bread machine.
Read more about salt (sodium)
Tips to increase iodine intake
- Eat out less often! Salt used in commercial outlets is generally not iodised.
- Eat seafood and food containing seaweed, like sushi.
- Fancy, and often expensive, sea salt and rock salts don't contain iodine. When you do want to add salt to a dish, always choose iodised salt.
Read more about iodine
What effect does salt have on our health? NZ Heart Foundation, 2015
Iodine Ministry of Health, NZ