5 ways to 5 grams

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa (HSFSA) takes the lead from the World Action on Salt and Health (WASH) to reinvigorate South Africa’s salt reduction efforts.

They highlight five simple changes that you can make to achieve the global recommended limit of five grams of salt per day. Achieving this could potentially prevent 1,65 million deaths worldwide, from cardiovascular disease each year. #5ways5grams

Why is extra salt bad for the body?

Our body actually needs salt to survive, but only in small amounts. So, the problem really lies in the amount that we are eating. Excessive salt intake is directly associated with raised blood pressure which may eventually lead to hypertension.

This is particularly relevant to South Africa, where we see a shocking 46% of women and 44% of men age 15 years and older with hypertension. This makes them vulnerable to having a stroke or suffering heart disease. High blood pressure is responsible for one in two strokes and two in five heart attacks in South Africa.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends limiting salt intake to no more than five grams per person per day, which is equivalent to 1 level teaspoon.  South Africans, however, cook with salty ingredients, add extra salt at the table and choose processed foods with hidden salt, resulting in them consuming on average 8,5g of salt per day.

5 ways to achieve 5g

Try these simple changes that you and your family can make that will help you to lower your daily salt intake.


Gradually add less salt to your favourite recipes, your taste buds will soon adapt.


Use herbs, spices, garlic, ginger, chilli and lemon to flavour foods rather than extra salt.


When shopping always check the food labels to help identify those lowest in sodium (salt) and look out for the Heart Mark logo which is an endorsement of the HSFSA.


Take salt and salty sauces off the table so that younger family members won’t develop this salty habit.


The minerals in fruit and vegetables as well as whole grains, lentils, beans, and low-fat dairy, help to lower blood pressure. Remember to drain and rinse canned vegetables and beans.

Get your blood pressure checked

All adults are recommended to test their blood pressure at least once every year. Most people with high blood pressure don’t know its high because there are rarely any symptoms to warn you. That is why it is often called a ‘silent killer’.

What else can I do to protect myself against high blood pressure?

There are other dietary and lifestyle changes you could make to prevent or reduce high blood pressure, such as:

  • Drink less alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation, which is no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. One drink is a small glass of wine (120 ml), a can of beer (340 ml) or a tot of any spirits (25 ml).

  • Eat well

Eat more fruit, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy. These foods are high in minerals, such as potassium and calcium as well as dietary fibre, which all help to lower high blood pressure.

  • Move more

Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five times a week. Regular exercise helps to lower high blood pressure, reduces risk of heart disease and stroke, and helps to manage stress and release tension, among numerous other benefits.

  • Maintain a healthy weight

If you are overweight, even losing a small amount of weight may help lower your blood pressure and reduce the strain on your heart. Maintaining a healthy weight provides several health benefits.

  • Avoid smoking

Smoking almost triples the risk of heart disease. It narrows blood vessels which increases blood pressure. If you don’t smoke, avoid being present in a place where others are smoking.

For more information go to www.heartfoundation.co.za or find us on Facebook @HeartStrokeSA or on Twitter @SAHeartStroke