Sodium chloride (salt)

Sodium chloride is commonly known as salt.

Sodium and chloride are minerals needed by the body in small amounts to help keep the level of fluids in the body balanced. Chloride also helps the body digest food.

Sources of salt

Salt is found naturally at low levels in all foods, but some salt is added to many processed foods, such as:

  • ready meals
  • meat products – such as bacon
  • some breakfast cereals
  • cheese
  • tinned vegetables with added salt
  • some bread
  • savory snacks
  • Bread and rolls.
  • Pizza.
  • Sandwiches.
  • Cold cuts and cured meats.
  • Soups.
  • Burritos and tacos.
  • Chicken.

How much salt do I need?

You should have no more than 6g of salt (2.4g of sodium) a day.

But, on average, people in the UK eat approximately 8g of salt (about 3.2g of sodium) a day, which is much more than the body needs.

A few practical tips for cutting down on salt include:

  • check food labels and choose foods with less salt – where color-coded labels are used, try to pick products with more greens and ambers, and fewer reds, for a healthier choice
  • choose tinned vegetables and pulses with no added salt
  • choose tinned fish in spring water rather than brine
  • only use sauces like soy sauce, brown sauce, ketchup, and mayonnaise sparingly, as these are often high in salt
  • eat fewer salty snacks, such as crisps, and salted nuts, and salty foods such as bacon, cheese, pickles, and smoked fish
  • add less or no salt when cooking – use herbs and spices for flavor instead
  • choose low-salt stock cubes, or make your own stock without added salt
  • taste your food first, and do not automatically add extra salt

Read more facts about salt, cutting down on salt, and how much salt is good for me.


What happens if I have too much salt?

Having too much salt is linked to high blood pressure, which raises your risk of serious problems like strokes and heart attacks.

Important Tips

Adults should eat no more than 6g of salt a day – that’s around 1 teaspoon. On average, we eat 2.1g more salt than we should each day.

People cut down on salt and say sodium chloride should not be used in supplements.

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