Salt and cancer prevention

Can eating too much salt increase cancer risk?

You may be aware that eating too much salt can be bad for you and increases the risk of high blood pressure.

Although the evidence linking added salt to stomach cancer has become less clear – partly because of the difficulty in measuring salt consumption – we cannot rule out the link, and eating too much salt is still a health concern.

Do we need salt?

Our bodies do need sodium (salt) but only in small amounts. Our daily intake of salt should be no more than 6g a day – that’s about one teaspoon.

As well as flavouring our food, salt is also used as a preservative to keep foods fresh for longer. So not only should we think about the amount of salt we add to food when cooking or at the dinner table, we also need to take a moment to consider salt when we’re in the supermarket.

How to shake off salt

  • Check food labels – did you know about 75 per cent of the salt in our diet comes from processed foods, such as bread, cereals, snacks and ready meals? A quick way to pick low-salt options is to look for a green label for salt on front-of-pack nutrition labels.
  • Opt for no-added-salt or low-salt options where possible – for example when buying baked beans and other tinned foods, stock cubes, ready-made sauces and soups, and breakfast cereals.
  • Gradually reduce, then cut out, the salt that you add during cooking or at the table. Taste buds change over four to six weeks, so if you try adding less salt for a few weeks it’s likely that you will learn to enjoy the natural flavours of real food.
  • Cook from scratch when you can. Eating more home-made meals allows you to take more control over what you eat – flavouring your food with garlic, ginger, lemon, herbs and spices will help to make sure you don’t miss the salt. Try one of our delicious healthy recipes, which are all low in salt.