1 February 2010
If you choose to add salt to your food, make sure it’s the iodised variety.
That is the World Salt Awareness Week message from the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA), which has conducted a study to evaluate the level of iodine in a number of salt products available for retail sale.
NZFSA nutrition programme manager David Roberts says iodine is an essential nutrient for growth and development, however iodine deficiency is re-emerging as a population-wide health problem because New Zealanders aren’t getting enough of it in their diet.
“Because iodine can’t be made in the body we need to get it from the food we eat,” he says. “Iodine supports normal growth and development in children and helps to maintain the body’s metabolic rate.”
He adds that iodine deficiency in New Zealand is being addressed through a variety of measures, including requiring bakers to use iodised salt in most bread since September last year.
NZFSA’s recent study of iodine in salt products available on store shelves tested six iodised salt products and 14 non-iodised sea, rock and low-sodium salt products.
Results showed that iodised products contained about 30 times more iodine than non-iodised products.
David says New Zealanders are generally recommended to reduce salt intake.
“If you have too much salt in your diet your blood pressure is in danger of going up, and this can elevate your risk of heart disease.
“However, if you like to add a little salt to your food during cooking, you might as well get some health benefit by choosing an iodised product and increasing the iodine in your diet.”
Other sources of iodine include reduced or low-fat milk and milk products, eggs and seafood. Foods that contain seaweed such as sushi and seameal custard are also sources.
For results from the Iodine levels in New Zealand retail salt go to:
For more information about iodine see:
Note to the editor
The Ministry of Health has endorsed an upper level of intake for sodium based on the adverse effect of sodium intake on blood pressure levels.
The New Zealand Total Diet Study, which NZFSA conducted in 2003/04, showed that mean daily sodium intakes could exceed this upper level of intake for most age-sex groups by 25-57%. For a high sodium consumer, sodium intake may exceed the upper level of intake by a factor of three.
Processed foods generally have much higher concentrations of sodium than unprocessed foods. Key food sources of sodium in the New Zealand diet include breads, takeaways, dairy products, cereals and pasta, biscuits, cake, and meat and meat products.
For further comment contact: David Roberts, Programme Manager (Nutrition), 04 894 4236 or 029 894 4236
For further information contact: Mandy Smith, Advisor (Communications), 04 894 2528 or 029 894 2528