Home | Session 1: The Science of Stress | Session 2: Relaxation and Stress | Session 3: Exercise and Stress | Session 4: Stress Resistant Eating | Session 5: Stress Resistant Thinking

Stress Management for Health Course



"Dr Hans Selye's research showed that a diet rich in salt tends to potentiate the harmful effects of stress." (Donald  Norfolk)

Our western diet is literally loaded with salt and contains far, far more salt than our body requires.  We can gain all the salt we need naturally from the food we eat, we do not need to add it to our food on the plate or to cooking.  Processed foods are laden with salt and contain little of the mineral potassium, whereas foods still in their natural state, such as fruits and vegetables, naturally have a high potassium, low salt ratio.

A certain amount of salt (sodium) is vital for our health; its the excess salt that is the problem.  Salt is something our body needs, but on most days many of us eat 4 times the amount that is really needed.  Many of the foods we eat already contain salt in their natural state.  If we eat processed food in tins or packets then salt is usually added by the manufacturer, then we add even more salt at the table. 

Most of the salt in the Western diet is hidden in processed foods, some breakfast cereals are so loaded with salt they have a stronger concentration of salt than sea water.  Foods such as pizza, baked beans, tomato ketchup and cheese are all loaded with salt and a bowl of tinned mushroom soup contains 5 times as much salt as a packet of salted peanuts. 


Hidden Salt

Most of the salt in food is hidden inside processed foods.  Try to eat as little processed foods as possible.  Breads, cheese, cereals, processed meats, contain salt.


Some people are more sensitive to salt than others but excess salt can be a factor in the development of the following conditions:


        High Blood Pressure

        Heart Disease

        Kidney Disease



Excess salt causes the body to retain water in order to neutralise the salt. 

Excess salt is a chemical stressor and stimulates the adrenal glands to release stress hormones.  Contrary to popular belief a certain amount of salt is vital and healthy its the amount of salt that we consume that is the problem.

Researchers have estimated that 40,000 lives a year could be saved if the food manufacturers reduced the amount of salt in their products.


High Blood Pressure

People who have a lot of salt in their diet seem to be more likely to have high blood pressure, and they have an increased risk of stokes and heart disease.  In nations who are still consuming a low salt, plant food diet there is little evidence of high blood pressure even with age.  In the west peoples blood pressure rises as they get older, this is not natural it is partly to do with diet and lifestyle because the contrary happens in countries eating a plant based, low salt diet, their blood pressure decreases slightly with age.  Yet in nations who have a high salt diet like that of the Japanese have high levels  of high blood pressure.

It is the sodium in the salt that contributes to High Bp.  The recommended maximum daily amount is 6 grams/day, but the body only needs 1 gram.

(One gram of salt = one fifth of a teaspoon)


Salt Content of Some Foods



100 grams

(Switch to low salt/no salt butter)



1.75 grams salt per 100 grams

Baked Beans

1 serving


1.25 grams salt per 1 serving


Digestive Biscuits

1 biscuit


0.25 grams salt per 1 biscuit


Pre-prepared meals



Some can contain 7 grams salt


Smoked Salmon

50 gram portion

(Swap for fresh fish per 100 grams only contains 0.01 grams salt)



3.75 grams salt per 50 grams



100 grams

(Swap to fresh, unpackaged meats per 100 grams contains 0.1 grams)



59 grams salt per 100 grams



100 grams

(Swap for unprocessed fresh meats, chicken fish)



2.2 3 grams salt per 100 grams

    Hot dogs 1.5 grams salt for 1

White Bread

100 grams


1.25 2.5 grams salt per 100 grams


Cornflakes, Rice Crispies

100 grams

(Swap for Shredded Wheat which has no added salt)



2.75 grams salt per 100 grams

Chocolate cake

1 slice

1 slice can contain up to 0.4 grams salt


Reducing Salt Intake

As has been discussed our diet is far too loaded with salt and its important not only just for stress but for our general health to reduce the amount of salt we are consuming.  Gradually reducing the amount of salt in the diet will help to re-educate our taste buds and soon you wont find a low salt diet unpalatable.  Fortunately food manufacturers are now starting to reduce the amount of salt they add to their foods so try to select brands that have a lower salt content.


        Use less salt when cooking.


        To season foods use herbs, spices, lemon juice, etc. instead of salt.


        Eat less bacon, ham and other meats which are salted.


        Bread contains a lot of salt consider making your own.


        Cut down on salty snacks like crisps and salted peanuts, replace them with unsalted nuts.


        Choose low salt or no salt breakfast cereals.


        Choose low salt butter/margarine.


        Avoid tinned soups that can be high in salt.


Click here to be taken to Fish