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Ask the experts: Blood pressure

How can I reduce the salt content of regular family meals?

Q: "I am looking for ways to lower my husband's blood pressure via his diet. I know the basics, but I am really looking for easy-to-cook meals the whole family can enjoy. I have three young children and am not into being a short order cook – one meal for the whole family, I say."

Roshan

A: We asked Kelsey Woodcock, nutritionist at the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation, for ideas:

"There are easy ways to reduce your family's salt intake without having to devise a whole new menu. Try to cut out adding salt when cooking and at the dinner table. Instead, jazz up your meals with pepper and fresh or dried herbs: add oregano and basil when cooking spaghetti bolognese or lasagne, and try adding coriander and a splash of lemon juice when dishing up fish.

Processed meats like luncheon, salami, ham and sausages tend to have a high salt content, so avoid these. Other processed foods that have a high salt content are chips, yeast spreads, sauces and cheese. When out shopping for your family, take a look at the 'per 100g' column on the nutrition panel on the back of the product and compare the sodium content of similar products. Also look out for lower-salt alternatives which are now available for some foods. You don't need to cook separate meals for each member of the family; while we do need sodium in our diets, we need very little compared to the amount most of us consume, so a low-salt diet is suitable for everyone."

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