A main source of sodium is table salt. The average American eats five or more teaspoons of salt each day. This is about 20 times as much as the body needs. In fact, your body needs only 1/4 teaspoon of salt every day. Sodium is found naturally in foods, but a lot of it is added during processing and preparation. Many foods that do not taste salty may still be high in sodium. Large amounts of sodium can be hidden in canned, processed and convenience foods. And sodium can be found in many foods that are served at fast food restaurants.

Sodium controls fluid balance in our bodies and maintains blood volume and blood pressure. Eating too much sodium may raise blood pressure and cause fluid retention, which could lead to swelling of the legs and feet or other health issues.

When limiting sodium in your diet, a common target is to eat less than 2,000 milligrams of sodium per day.

The maximum amount of salt children should have depends on their age:

  • 1 to 3 years – 2g salt a day (0.8g sodium)

  • 4 to 6 years – 3g salt a day (1.2g sodium)

  • 7 to 10 years – 5g salt a day (2g sodium)

  • 11 years and over – 6g salt a day (2.4g sodium)

Red meat – such as beef and lamb – is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, and can form part of a balanced diet. But eating a lot of red and processed meat probably increases your risk of bowel (colorectal) cancer.

That's why it's recommended that people who eat more than 90g (cooked weight) of red and processed meat per day cut down to 70g.

What counts as red and processed meat?

Red meat includes:

  • beef

  • lamb and mutton

  • veal

  • venison

  • goat

It doesn't include:

  • chicken

  • turkey

  • duck

  • goose

  • game birds

  • rabbit

Processed meat refers to meat that has been preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives. This includes:

  • sausages

  • bacon

  • ham

  • deli meats such as salami

  • pâtés

  • canned meat such as corned beef

  • sliced luncheon meats, including those made from chicken and turkey