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Salt in Britain: The History, Uses and Types of Salt in Britain

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How Much Salt Can I Eat?
How Much Salt Can I Eat each Day
Photo © RFB Photography

Using Salt

Considered one of the most important ingredients in cookery, salt brings out the flavour and helps keep the nutrients in vegetables. In bread making it helps the rising process and a tiny pinch of salt in sweet dishes such as batters and cakes can concentrate the flavours.

Seasoning boiling water, just before adding pasta or vegetables for blanching, causes the water to boil more furiously cutting down the cooking time.

Light sprinklings of Maldon flakes on a crisp green salad, or roll small potatoes in olive oil with a pinch of Fleur de Sel before baking are ways of using salt other than as a condiment. There are many recipes for meat and fish baked in a salt crust. The salt bakes rock hard in the oven creating a seal around the meat or fish. But, once removed from the oven and cracked open, the result is tender, moist perfectly seasoned food inside.

Is Salt bad for us?

Like everything in excess, yes it is. However, salt is vital to our health. Each one of us has about 250g of salt in our bodies and it is working hard to keep us alive.

The sodium in salt is an electrolyte that helps keep the fluid balance in blood cells and sends electrical impulses between the brain, nerves, and muscles. As the oldest preservative known to man, salt also plays a vital role in protecting us from food poisoning. If you go into hospital and need say a saline drip or kidney dialysis, salt is an essential ingredient in keeping you alive.

If you are a normal, healthy individual, you do not need to cut your salt intake though under medical supervision, a low-salt diet may be valuable for those already suffering raised blood pressure.

How Much Salt is Too Much?

Health guidelines state adults should eat no more than 6g of salt each day, roughly a teaspoonful.

Though no-one would put 6g of salt directly on food, it is the hidden salt that racks up the intake. Three-quarters of the salt we eat comes from processed foods; breakfast cereals, soups, sauces, ready meals and biscuits. So, before you assume that you don't eat too much salt, take a look at what you're buying, as well as how you use salt at home.

If you consider you don't eat salty foods (nuts, crisps, salty bacon), beware. Some foods that are high in salt don't taste salty because they have lots of sugar in them, for example some biscuits and breakfast cereals.

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