Salt the forgotten killer

Media Release: Heart Foundation -  20 March 2017

With nutrition experts and wellness bloggers constantly waging war on sugar it’s easy to forget about salt, turning it into the forgotten killer.

This week is World Salt Awareness Week and the message is simple, eat less salt and you lower your chances of dying prematurely.

Heart disease is New Zealand’s biggest killer, during Salt Awareness Week alone, more than 115 Kiwis will die from heart disease.

“High salt intake is linked to high blood pressure which in turn raises your risk of heart attacks,” says Heart Foundation Food and Nutrition Manager Dave Monro.

Around 75% of the salt New Zealanders eat comes from processed foods, highlighting the important role food company’s play in being able to reduce salt consumption in the Kiwi diet.

“The major source of salt in our diets is not what is added in our cooking or at the table – it is in the processed, manufactured food we buy,” says Monro.

The Heart Foundation has been collaborating with food companies for more than a decade to encourage food reformulation to reduce salt in processed foods.

“Food manufacturers is selected food categories have contributed to a reduction of approximately 250 tonnes of salt annually in New Zealand,” says Monro.

“This highlights the importance of reformulating foods at a manufacturing level.”

Despite some of the good work taking place to reformulate food products, New Zealanders’ salt intake is still too high. Kiwis currently consume 9 grams of salt per day, three times the World Health Organisation’s recommended daily salt intake of 5 grams.

While the Heart Foundation’s emphasis is on reducing salt levels in processed foods, it is encouraging people to reduce their consumption of processed foods which can be high in both salt and sugar, and to eat more whole foods.

Read more about World Salt Awareness week including six tips for reducing your salt intake on the Heart Foundation website.

For tips on a heart-healthy diet read our Guide to eating for a healthy heart.


Heart Foundation at a glance:

  • Heart disease is New Zealand’s biggest killer, claiming the lives of more than 6,000 New Zealanders every year – that’s one person every 90 minutes.
  • The Heart Foundation funds cutting-edge research and specialist training for cardiologists, while our education and prevention programmes address heart disease head-on in the community.
  • The Heart Foundation is New Zealand’s leading heart charity, and we rely heavily on the generosity of everyday Kiwi to support our life-saving work.

For further information:

Heart Foundation
Amanda Papps
Phone: 021 646 954

Louise Blockley
Phone: 021 525 857