Australian researchers have shown overweight and obese people with type 2 diabetes are eating dangerously high levels of salt - or more than double what they should for good health.
Researcher Anthony Villani said 93 per cent of men and 88 per cent of women in his study ate more than the national target of 6g of salt a day or less.
Mr Villani from Flinders University and Associate Professor Jennifer Keogh from the University of South Australia monitored the diets of 88 overweight and obese adults with type 2 diabetes over a four-day period.
'People with type 2 diabetes, especially men, are either not receiving or not following advice to cut back on salt. This can lead to serious health problems in a group of people who are already at a higher risk of poor health,' said Mr Villani.
Eating too much salt is a known cause of high blood pressure, which in turn is a risk factor for heart and kidney diseases.
Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council recommends adults eat no more than 6g of salt a day. This drops to even less (4g a day) to ward off chronic disease - and just one of the 88 participants in Mr Villani's study achieved this.
He found breads and cereals were the biggest dietary contributors to salt intake, making up 23 per cent of intake. Processed meats (15%), spreads (7%) and fast food and take-aways (7%) were the next highest contributors.
5 ways to reduce salt intake:
• Prepare meals with fresh, unprocessed ingredients, particularly vegetables.
• Compare the salt levels of food products (such as bread, cereals and canned foods) by looking at the food label. Where possible, choose low-salt, no-added-salt and reduced-salt foods.
• Cut back on snack foods with high levels of saturated fat, sugar or salt. Opt instead for nutritious choices like fresh fruit, low-fat yoghurt and unsalted raw nuts.
• Have take-away and fast food meals as an occasional treat and watch portion sizes.
• Add flavour to meals by using alternatives to salt, such as lemon or lime juice, onion, garlic, chilli, pepper, herbs and spices.
Source: Dietitians Association of Australia