Sexual health and salt intake do not usually make it into the same sentence, however after last weeks salt awareness week campaign by AWASH (Australian division of World Action on Salt and Health) , the main topic of focus was “salt and mens health” and they key driver for change being the negative affects it may have on mens sexual health.

Men generally speaking have higher blood pressure than women, with this starting at a younger age. Men have also been found to be less likely to have their blood pressure checked and therefore be able to identify the problem and make changes to their lifestyle accordingly. High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke and heart attacks, which are the most common causes of death in Australia.

The maximum daily intake of salt that is recommended by the government is 6g a day, as in, you really shouldnt be having this much. The lower suggested daily target is 4g of salt a day, which if looking on a nutrition information panel of a food, equates to a daily total of 1,600mg of sodium.

Processed foods and take away foods are thought to contribute around 75% of Australians salt intake. It is important to note, that food ingredients do not naturally tend to be high in salt, however during the processing phase, large amounts are often added. This obviously becomes a huge problem if most people are relying on packaged and take away foods for most of their dietary intake.

For a while now people have been looking out for saturated fat, sugars (although not always the most relevant column given it does not determine the source of the sugars, or whether they are low GI), and energy (kJ or calories); However sodium seems to have taken a back seat (and really shouldn’t have!).

The guidelines for sodium are as follows:

Low sodium food = less than 120mg / 100g

High sodium food = more than 450mg/ 100g

Reduced sodium food = food that has at least 25% less sodium than the original version of the product

There has been a lot of progess in the last few years around decreasing sodium in the food supply system. You will see that breakfast cereals are starting to make changes, however one of the main culprites for sodium supply into the diet has got to be bread. Next time you go to your pantry, check the sodium against the guidelines above and see how your bread stacks up.

A couple examples of the differences in sodium content for the same meal, provided by AWASH, included:

There was 2.4 g more salt in Leggo’s Sundried Tomato and Garlic Pasta Sauce compared to Raguletto’s Reduced Salt Napolitana Sauce

Swapping to lower salt brands for baked beans on toast could save 2.0 g salt e.g. Heinz baked beans in BBQ sauce for SPC salt reduced baked beans.

Even ‘healthier’ options such as the weight watchers Hawaiian Pizza had 3.5g of salt per serve (1,400mg sodium).

So as you can see, sodium /salt is present, even in ‘healthy’ processed foods, so from now on, make it part of your food selection analysis to check the sodium column and ensure you are looking after yours and your family or partners health.

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