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Sodium occurs in a number of different forms but is generally consumed as sodium chloride (commonly known as 'salt'). Sodium is found naturally in foods such as milk, cream, eggs, meat and shellfish. Sodium is also added to foods to enhance flavours and as a preservative. Processed foods, such as snack foods, bacon and other processed meats, and condiments generally have high levels of sodium added during processing. High intakes of sodium can increase blood pressure, and high blood pressure can increase the risk of developing heart and kidney problems.1
In 2011-12, the average daily amount of sodium consumed from food for all persons aged two years and over was 2,404 mg (equivalent to around one teaspoon of table salt) see Table 1.1. This amount includes sodium naturally present in foods as well sodium added during processing, but excludes the 'discretionary salt' added by consumers in home prepared foods or 'at the table'. With an estimated 64% of Australians reporting that they add salt very often or occasionally either during meal preparation or at the table see Table 12.1, the average amounts of sodium presented here are likely to be an underestimate. See Interpretation section within the Nutrient Intake chapter of the AHS Users' Guide.
Sodium consumption was significantly higher among males than females across the age groups and peaked among males aged 14-18 years and 19-30 years whose average consumption was 3,117 mg and 3,120 mg respectively (equivalent to 8 grams of salt).2 All male age groups except for those aged 71 years and over had average intakes that exceeded the Upper Level (UL) of sodium intake recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). 1 Among females, only those age groups younger than 19 years had average sodium intakes in excess of the UL.
One-quarter (25%) of sodium came from Cereal-based products and dishes (mainly from the mixed dishes where cereal is the major ingredient), while 18% came from Cereal and cereal products (mainly bread) and 18% came from Meat and poultry (mainly processed meat and mixed dishes) see Table 10.67.
Footnote(s): (a) on the day prior to interview
Source(s): Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results - Foods and Nutrients, 2011-12
1. National Health and Medical Research Council 2006, Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand, Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council, < http://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/sodium> Back
2. 1 gram of sodium chloride (salt) contains 390 mg of sodium. Source: NHMRC 2006, Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand, < http://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/sodium Back
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