HEALTH chiefs are urging people to cut down on the amount of salt they consume – to help halt a rise in the number of strokes.
Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) said there was now strong evidence that high salt intake sparks high blood pressure – the main cause of strokes and a major cause of heart attacks and heart failure, which are on the rise according to recent figures released in the region.
Eating too much salt is also a factor in osteoporosis, stomach cancer, kidney disease and kidney stones, and aggravates the symptoms of asthma, Alzheimer's disease and diabetes.
r Sheila Newport (pictured), chairman of NHS Southern Derbyshire CCG, said: "You don't have to add salt to your food to eat too much of it – around 75 per cent of the salt we eat is already in everyday foods such as bread, breakfast cereal and ready meals.
"Whether you're eating at home, cooking or eating out, don't add salt to your food automatically – taste it first.
"Many people add salt out of habit but it's often unnecessary, and your food will taste good without it."
The daily recommended amount is no more than six grammes, yet current average intake in the area is 8.1g – with many eating even more.
A three-gramme reduction in average daily intake by adults would reduce annual deaths from cardiovascular disease by hundreds and save thousands in healthcare costs.
Reducing daily salt intake by five grammes could avert one-and-a-quarter million deaths from strokes each year across the UK.
A spokesman for the CCG said: "There are lots of ways to add flavour to your cooking without using salt. Try using black pepper or fresh herbs and spices. You could make your own stock or gravy instead of using cubes.
"Why not try baking or roasting your vegetablesm or making sauces from tomatoes or garlic?"