Northern Ireland people consuming 43% more salt than is healthy for us each day
People in Northern Ireland are consuming almost 50% more salt in their daily diet than recommended, leading experts to call for action to address the "alarming" problem.
The figures were revealed in a report by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and showed that the average salt intake was found to be 8.6g per day - 43% higher than the recommended maximum limit of 6g per day, with men eating more than women.
The FSA has now urged people to read the labels on food to become more informed about salt levels within.
White bread, meat products such as bacon and ham, and foods such as cooking sauces, soups and condiments are the biggest contributors of salt in people's diets.
Joanne Casey, dietitian at the FSA, said: "The findings are alarming and show that people here eat too much salt and need to cut down.
"A high salt intake can contribute to raised blood pressure, which itself is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. I would encourage everyone to be more aware of the salt in their diet and to try to cut down."
To increase people's awareness of the salt content of foods, many businesses are using front of pack nutrition labelling. This colour-coded labelling system means foods are coloured red, amber and green, to show people at a glance what is in their food.
She added:"It's not commonly known that 75% of the salt we eat is already in the food we buy.
"I would encourage people to read the labels on food packets and look for products with lower salt content. If the label on the front of packaging is colour-coded, try to choose foods that are coloured green for salt, as this indicates it is a low salt food.
"It's also worth experimenting with different ways to flavour food, with a variety spices or herbs. I'd also encourage people not to add any salt from the salt cellar during cooking or at the table."
The FSA launched the Eatwell Guide earlier this year, designed to inform people about how much salt they should have.