Between 65 and 85% of our salt is already in the food we eat and it is not in what we add to food either in cooking or at the table. The sodium content often quoted on food packaging is misleading as the actual salt content will be 2.5 times that of the value quoted. Obviously salty food such as bacon, olives and crisps have high sodium content but less obvious foods such as bread, ready meals, baked beans and breakfast cereals also contain significant levels.
Salt is added to food for many reasons including;
- Seasoning - to enhance the taste of food and make bland food such as bread and pasta palatable;
- Preservatives - Even with the advent of refrigeration salt still plays a part in food hygiene;
- Binding agent - in processed and formed meats;
- Colour controller - makes food more attractive for us by, for example, enhancing the golden crust of a loaf of bread;
- Texture aid - improves tenderness in meat and gives an even consistency in cheese;
- Fermentation control - makes a consistent product and reduces opportunity for harmful bacteria