Are you consuming too much salt ? On average, adult Canadians consume about 3,400 mg (roughly 1.5 teaspoons) of sodium per day. This is significantly above the level recommended as the upper tolerable limit for health, which is 2,300 mg per day (approximately 1 teaspoon). Apparently most of the sodium Canadians consume comes from processed food, about 70%, and only about 10% is added during preparation.
Table salt, also known as sodium chloride, consists of both sodium and chloride. One teaspoon contains roughly 2,300 mg of sodium, and 3,800 mg of chloride. It is the sodium component of salt that increases the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
We do need a small amount of sodium in order to maintain health. However, in some people too much sodium causes blood pressure to rise. High blood pressure increases your risk for heart disease and stroke.
About six million, or roughly 20% of adult Canadians have high blood pressure (hypertension), the leading risk for death in the world, the number one risk factor for stroke, and a major risk factor for heart disease. A further 20% of Canadian adults have pre-hypertension, that is when blood pressure is above normal but not to the level considered to be classified as high.
A study of sodium levels in Canadian fast-food and sit-down restaurants found that on average, sit-down restaurant menu items contained 1,455 mg of sodium per serving. More than 22 per cent of sit down restaurant stir fry entrees, sandwiches/wraps, ribs and pasta entrees with meat/seafood exceeded 2,300 mg of sodium. To reduce the dietary intake of sodium and in turn the blood pressure among the population obviously changes are needed with regard to the salt added during the processing of this food.
Well we are probably not in a position the make these industry changes, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do something about our own intake. You don’t have to add salt to your food to eat too much of it – around 70% of the salt we eat is already in everyday foods such as bread, breakfast cereal and ready meals. Start making a difference now by –
Eating mostly fresh foods prepared at home and eating fewer ready-made packaged foods, we know how much salt goes into our food this way – only as much as we put in!
Also reduce the amount of salt used in cooking by not adding the full amount a recipe calls for.
Washing away the salt in canned goods such as beans, lentils and vegetables by rinsing them before eating, better still look for canned goods without added salt.
For healthier snacks, choose fruit or vegetables such as carrot or celery sticks. If you are going to have crisps or crackers, check the label and choose the ones lower in sodium.
Go easy on soy sauce, mustard, pickles, mayonnaise and other table sauces, as these can all be high in salt.
Go for reduced-salt, unsmoked back bacon. Cured meats and fish can be high in salt, so try to eat these less often.
Make your own stock and gravy instead of using cubes or granules, or look out for reduced-salt products.
Try baking or roasting vegetables such as red peppers, tomatoes, courgettes, fennel, parsnips and squash to bring out their flavour.
Make sauces using ripe flavourful tomatoes and garlic.
Limiting eating at restaurants and fast food outlets, asking for nutrition information and asking for meals to be prepared with no salt when dining out.
Ordering a smaller portion or sharing your meal with someone when eating out.
Tasting your food before adding salt, you probably add salt from habit, if you really think about the taste to see if it really does need salt, or perhaps try things without any salt, Salt preference is an acquired taste that can be unlearned. It takes about 6-8 weeks to get used to eating food with much lower quantities of salt, but once it’s done, it’s actually difficult to eat foods like potato chips because they taste too salty.
Add salt-free herbs and spices or lemon to foods for extra flavour instead of salt.
Looking for ‘sodium-free’, ‘low sodium’, ‘reduced sodium’ or ‘no added salt’ on the package if choosing packaged foods.
Reading the nutrition facts table on packaged foods carefully. Look for the serving size and use the % Daily Value to compare products. Choose products that are lowest in sodium. A %Daily Value 5% or less per serving is considered a little and a %Daily Value of 15% or more per serving is considered a lot.