What is salt? And is it really that bad for us?
Sodium (salt) is an electrolyte and mineral needed by the body to help regulate fluid levels. It can also play an important role in how nerves and muscles work. The human body cannot live without sodium, however there is generally more than enough dietary sodium in the average persons diet without any added salt.
In fact, the average Australian child eats almost double the sodium that is recommended. A diet high in sodium has been linked to poor health including high blood pressure and other health conditions.
1-3 years old: 200-400mg/day
4-8 years old: 300-600mg/day
1-3 years old: 1000mg/day
4-8 years old: 1400mg/day
To put that into perspective 2 slices of ham (50-60g) contains around 720mg of sodium, which is more than the recommended daily amount for children. A slice of white bread contains around 400mg of sodium and 1 serve (or 15ml) of tomato sauce contains around 124mg. You may be thinking that the sauce, which is pretty well known for its high sodium content is actually the healthier option, however this is where it gets confusing…
Bread for example is an excellent source of protein, vitamins, minerals, fibre and carbohydrates, which means it will keep the little ones fuller for longer as it takes longer to digest. Ham is also a great protein packed, quick and convenient snack for when you are go-go-go. Tomato sauce offers little to no nutritional value and although it is much lower in sodium than other products in your pantry, it is quite high when we think of how much product we are using.
My advice is:
- Let them eat the sauce, let them eat the bread, let them eat the ham,
- Recognise that some foods offer them more nutritional value than others,
- Recognise that other foods may offer them something different; comfort, taste, flavour, social interaction or memories.
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