Derbyshire health chiefs have backed a campaign urging people to eat less salt.
There is 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.
In turn, heart attacks and heart failure are the world’s most common causes of death and illness.
Eating too much salt is also a factor in osteoporosis, stomach cancer, kidney disease and kidney stones, and it aggravates the symptoms of asthma, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.
Now, NHS Hardwick and North Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are calling on people to mark Salt Awareness Week running from Monday (10 March) by cutting down on salt.
Almost everyone in the UK eats too much salt. The daily recommended amount is no more than six grams yet current average intake is 8.1g – with many people eating even more.
A three-gram reduction in average daily intake by adults would reduce annual deaths from cardiovascular disease by between 14,000 and 20,000, saving around £350m in healthcare costs.
A three-gram reduction for the 288,000 patients served by North Derbyshire CCG works out at more than one kilogram per person a year – or 326 tonnes in total.
Reducing daily salt intake by five grams could avert one and a quarter million deaths from stroke each year and almost three million deaths from cardiovascular disease.
Dr Ben Milton, Chair of NHS North 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.
“Remember, 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.”
Dr Steve Lloyd, Chair of NHS Hardwick CCG, added: “Many people add salt to food when cooking. But there are lots of ways to add flavour to your cooking without using any 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 vegetables or making sauces from tomatoes or garlic?”