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Salt or Sodium

SALT matters.   In a world that cheerfully eats foods that are even saltier than seawater, there is a worldwide scientific consensus that:
•  the salt intake of industrial societies is excessive
•  the excess salt confers no health benefits
•  on the contrary, it causes or aggravates well over a dozen salt-related health problems

SODIUM.   The Australian Dietary Guidelines tell everybody to choose foods low in salt. However the food regulations define low salt foods by their sodium content (not their salt content).

So although few people have ever seen metallic sodium outside a chemistry laboratory and nobody has ever touched or tasted it (because it would be dangerous), this means they have to identify low salt foods by checking the sodium content when they read food labels. This is all that the average shopper needs to know about sodium.


Chloride ions are also harmful in excess, and there is no question that the epidemic health problems are due to the abuse of common salt (sodium chloride) as a food additive.

    Food labels show only the sodium content, because the salt content would require a separate analysis for chloride, which would be more expensive but not much more informative.

    Although sodium chloride is only one of 43 sodium compounds permitted as food additives in Australia, about 90% of all the sodium added to foods is sodium chloride.

    The chloride has far more effect on blood pressure, and is more important even in oedema and the other salt-related health problems, as it takes longer to excrete than the alkaline and organic sodium compounds.

    Physiologically normal urine is alkaline, and chlorides are partly responsible for the prevalence of acid urine and its health consequences.

Page last modified on: Tuesday 11 May, 2010

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