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Stroke Foundation research highlights the need to talk about salt

This week, the Stroke Foundation of New Zealand published research highlighting the excessively high salt content of sauces sold in New Zealand. Salt is one of the main causes of high blood pressure, which contributes to 75% of all strokes in New Zealand.

Research conducted by the National Institute for Health Innovation (NIHI) and commissioned by the Stroke Foundation looked at the salt content of more than 1,050 sauces sold in New Zealand.

It revealed that 6 out of 10 sauces sold in New Zealand supermarkets failed to meet the voluntary salt targets set by the Heart Foundation.

Asian cuisine sauces – such as soy, fish and oyster sauces are of particular concern, with only 4% of products in this category meeting voluntary salt reduction targets.

“The very high salt content of sauces sold in New Zealand is fueling an epidemic of high blood pressure, affecting 1 in 5 New Zealanders and putting them at increased risk of life-threatening strokes. A brand of fish sauce contained 4,000 times more salt than a low-sodium alternative, so we know for sure that it is possible for manufacturers to modify their recipes to improve their health and well-being,” says Jo Lambert, Director General of the Stroke Foundation.

Last year, the World Health Organization (2021) listed reducing salt intake, through food reformulation, as a “best buy” investment to control non-communicable diseases such as stroke brain, heart disease and cancer. Around 9,500 strokes are suffered in New Zealand each year. This equates to one stroke every 55 minutes (2020), costing society over $1.1 billion per year.

The Stroke Foundation is calling for the introduction of government-led salt targets to lift significant pressure on the healthcare system by reducing the burden of strokes in our communities. “It’s time for us to ask ourselves if the food industry is willing and able to meet voluntary targets,” says Lambert. “We must act now to join the other 48 nations around the world that have introduced salt targets to the industry,” she added.

The Stroke Foundation urges people when shopping to compare the nutrition information panels of different brands of sauces and select the one with the least salt (sodium) per serving. Making simple changes like this is tantamount to making big differences in your daily salt intake.

The Foundation also recommends that New Zealanders add flavor to meals with ingredients that do not contain salt, such as herbs, spices, citrus juices, pepper, garlic, ginger or some onions. The Foundation shared 5 clever exchanges for salt for buyers – https://youtu.be/nNuXMtUma_M

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