Assessment of Total Discretionary Salt

Figure 2 compares the traditional and lithium marker techniques for assessing both total salt intake and the distribution of its sources. When table and cooking salt are combined to form a single value, the percentage contribution of these discretionary sources to the total intake measured by the lithium marker technique is significantly lower in the UK compared with that assessed by traditional methods, which do not consider salt losses during cooking and at the table. This intake in the UK seemed unusually low, but when discretionary sources (table and cooking salt) were assessed in various regions of Italy using the lithium marker technique, discretionary salt intake varied between 31 and 41% of total intake. In rural Benin the use of discretionary sources in women was higher (52%) and in rural Guatemala was as much as 77% of total intake. Thus, the more industrialized the food system the greater the proportion of nondiscretionary salt intake, which then makes it more difficult for individuals to reduce their salt intake. In Japan, salt is ingested in large amounts as pickled and salted fish and vegetables but these distinctive items may be considered discretionary sources of salt. Similarly, there are specific discretionary salted meat and vegetable extracts that are used for flavoring in Western societies.

Traditional data on table salt use are given in Table 8 and new estimates in Table 9.

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