I have a salty tooth. If you asked me to choose between a sweet and salty snack, I'd go for the salty one, every time.
That probably puts me in with the majority of Kiwis, who are eating more salt than is healthy for us. It's the sodium in salt that does the damage, raising blood pressure and contributing to stroke risk.
The Stroke Foundation says that, on average, Kiwis are eating almost twice as much salt as is recommended.
What's more, it seems we don't really have that much of an understanding of how to reduce the salt in our diets.
In a recent survey by the foundation, only 34 per cent of people were concerned about the amount of salt they eat. Forty per cent said they were taking action to reduce salt consumption, but of those, most were focused on reducing the salt in cooking and at the table. While that's a good start, the salt we add to our food actually only contributes about 20 per cent of that we eat.
We get most of the salt/sodium we eat from processed foods. And it can be hiding in some unexpected places, making it surprisingly easy to overload on. It can often be in foods we don't think of as salty.
For example, there's a surprising amount of salt in cereal and bread (although this has been coming down; over the past few years bread manufacturers have been stealthily and gradually reducing the salt in our bread, in an important step for health).
There's salt in biscuits and crackers, and often in muesli and snack bars. Eat a few of these items in a day, then add in some salty foods in meals such as soy sauce, cheese or bacon, and it's pretty easy to go way over the recommended 2000mg upper limit for the day.
When it comes to kids, the limits are much lower – just 1000mg for young toddlers, and 1400mg for kids between 4 and 8. So it's even easier for them to overload on the salt, especially when you consider that some of the highest-salt foods are also kids' favourites.
A marmite sandwich, for example, could pack in 500mg sodium; half of a child's daily limit in one snack or small meal. Throw in a few rice crackers, a commercially made pasta sauce and a bit of cheese with dinner and the day could easily go over the limit.
And while we might think there's not much harm in that, and we're better off focusing on keeping the sugar down in our kids' diets, it may be that salt is doing even more harm.
It's alarming to hear that we now have kids being diagnosed with high blood pressure relating to too much sodium in their diets.
I think salt – or salt reduction, really – needs a better agent. We're all trained now on the sugar, but it's possible our most harmful food additive is still hiding in plan sight.
• Niki Bezzant is editor-at-large for Healthy Food Guide www.healthyfood.co.nz