It's no groundbreaking piece of news to tell you that excess salt in the diet is incredibly bad for your health. Tales of high blood pressure and heart attacks are commonplace, but many believe these complications could only ever affect them in their later years. It's far too easy to eat what you like now, telling yourself you'll cut back one day, but the fact is that eating too much salt even during childhood increases blood pressure dramatically, leading onto a whole host of illnesses. Poor diets that have been started when young track straight into adulthood and all the poor health comes along for the ride, as well as plenty when you're young. Heart attack and stroke risk is greatly increased across all ages, which is why it's so vital to reducing the amount of salt in diets across all ages in order to reduce the risk of heart disease, avoiding everything else that goes with it.
Right now we're in the thick of Salt Awareness Week, and whereas there's a lot of noise on diets found in adults, we want to shine a huge spotlight on the amount of salt in the diets of children. It's not just heart disease that's at risk, with new studies showing salt to be affecting multiple parts of the body, including a heightened risk of chronic kidney disease and altering the way the brain works, inducing severe levels of stress, even in kids. Research has found that the general UK population consumes as much as 33% more salt than the national recommended daily amount, this statistic extending to children between the ages of 5 and 17 who with their developing bodies are particularly susceptible to kidney failure.
The problem starts with parents not being best educated to recognise foods high in salt. Between work and looking after their children, parents understandably don't want to spend a lot of time on cooking, and so often take shortcuts in the way of ready meals, which are generally packed full of the stuff, amongst other nasties. As the kids grow older and are able to prepare their own meals, the trend continues when they're left at home during school holidays and whilst the parents are at work. An article by the Guardian found that, when left alone, children would on average eat a diet mainly based on crisps and other unhealthy snacks. It's completely up for debate on the true cause, but many would point fingers to either a lack of education on how to cook for themselves, limited foods to cook from or out and out laziness.
In addition to food at home, dining out can be a leading contributor to a whole lot of salt entering the body. There a whole lot of eyes now on the hospitality industry to make changes to continue the UK’s move towards healthier eating. Children’s menus are very often filled with meals that are easily cooked, but otherwise poor in nutrition, packed with sugars. fats, and extreme amounts of salt to make up for otherwise flavourless food. The government is very much on a mission to phase out the likes of chicken nuggets, burgers and other unhealthy food options, but many more remain. We happen to know that there are many other fun foods out there that are just as easy to cook, be it whilst out or at home, and are just as enticing, tasty and fun for children of all ages.
With new manufacturing techniques making it easier and easier for food companies to open a whole new realm of possibilities when it comes to making convenient food much healthier, there's no excuse anymore. The products are out there, and as we talked about in last week's blog post - we are one of them. If your child is old enough to boil a kettle, they can make a Mr Lee's Noodle. It's one of the lowest instant noodle in salt in the market, but also packed full of healthful meat and veggies, bursting with nutrition.