Your go-to lunch choice could be bad for your blood pressure
Dr Chris Steele shares diet tips on reducing blood pressure
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One of the worst lunchtime meals you could have is any type of sandwich that contains processed meat. Examples include sausage, bacon, or ham sandwiches, which are loaded with salt. The British Heart Foundation confirms that “eating too much salt may raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases”.
The charity Action On Salt highlighted that 65 percent of chilled sliced meat, including ham, chicken and salami, are “saltier than Atlantic seawater”.
This 2022 statistic was put forward by researchers based at Queen Mary University of London.
Sonia Pombo, Campaign Manager for Action on Salt, said: “Why are these everyday sliced meats… so high in salt when it is clearly not required for taste or food safety?”
Mhairi Brown, Policy and Public Affairs Manager for Action on Salt, added: “Voluntary salt reduction targets have been a key feature of public health policy in the UK for many years.
“After initial success, which inspired more than 50 countries to follow suit, progress has stagnated in the UK.”
Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London, shared his expertise.
“Reducing salt is the most cost-effective measure to lower blood pressure,” he said.
By lowering people’s blood pressure, the number of people suffering from strokes and heart disease can be reduced.
Moreover, so can the “life-changing disabilities associated” with these conditions.
Back in 2020, the campaign group was in an uproar about bacon – “enough is enough,” it reported.
“Some bacon contains nearly four times more salt than competitor brands, showing lower-salt bacon is easily possible,” Action On Salt stated.
Public Health England (PHE) outlined their salt reduction targets for 2024 for meat products, such as bacon, ham and sausages.
As of 2017, the salt target for 100g of bacon, for example, was 2.88g of salt (or 1150mg of sodium).
By 2024, the target for 100g of bacon will be reduced to 2.59g of salt (or 1035mg sodium).
The salt target for ham will remain the same at 1.63g of salt (or 650mg sodium).
As for sausages, the salt target will reduce from 1.13g of salt to 1.08g of salt.
The NHS says: “Adults should eat no more than 6g of salt a day (2.4g sodium).”
In order to know if you’re consuming a high-salt product, the easiest way to tell is to look at the colour code on the packaging.
Red symbolises that the product is high in something, whether it be salt, sugar, or fat.
Healthier lunchtime alternatives for your blood pressure include:
- Butternut squash soup
- Indian chicken salad
- Baked eggs with spinach.
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