Categorie Diet
Version 14/10/2014

For most people, the majority of salt in the diet comes not from salt we add to food ourselves (in cooking or at the table) but from manufactured (highly processed) foods. Sometimes these are surprising – for instance, bread is a big contributor to salt intake, as are some breakfast cereals, some tinned or packet soups and sauces, and some snack foods like crisps (chips). Some foods can be particularly salty, like smoked and cured meat and fish products, and it is best to avoid these as much as possible. The best way to control your salt intake is to be able to make your own food from basic ingredients as much as possible and not rely on industrial cooked dishes and processed meats, as well as to check the labels on manufactured foods. It is always helpful to limit using salt during cooking, and to avoid adding more salt at the table.

It can be difficult to know which foods are particularly salty, but the food label will usually show the amount of salt. As a guide, it is recommended not to exceed 5–6 grams of salt per day, to reduce the risk of gastric cancer and also of heart disease. Some examples of the sodium content of common foods are given in Table 1.

Table 1: Examples of the sodium content of common foods

FoodAverage sodium content
grams of sodium per 100 grams of food
Bouillon cube 20
Soy sauce
Sauces and spreads
Bacon 15
Cheese, hard
Cheese, soft
Savoury snacks
(e.g. pretzels, cheese puffs, popcorn)
Processed vegetables 0.6
Processed fish 0.4
Bread 0.25
Cereals and cereal products
(e.g. breakfast cereals, biscuits, pastries)

Source: Reproduced, with the permission of the publisher, from Guideline: Sodium intake for adults and children. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2012 (Annex 2, Page 26;, accessed 10 March 2014).