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SODIUM BY THE NUMBERS
September 03, 2011

SODIUM BY THE NUMBERS

We were shocked to find these stats on salt consumption while researching for this Blog. Salt is so abundant in our diets that we’ve even forgotten it’s there.  Pre-packaged and ready-to-eat foods are the main source of sodium, accounting for 77% of the average daily sodium intake.  Another 12% occurs naturally in foods, and salt added at the table (6%) or added during cooking (5%) makes up the remainder.1

Although sodium – the main component of salt – is indeed an essential nutrient, the average Canadian takes in more than twice the amount we actually need.  While the body needs sodium to function, too much may lead to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for stroke, heart disease and kidney disease.

The recommended daily amount is 1500-2300mg.  On average, Canadians consume 3,400mg per day.2  One teaspoon = 6 grams of salt.  6 grams of salt contains about 2,300mg of sodium.

6 Ways to Shake the Salt Habit:

1)  Read the Label

Read nutrition labels before you buy.  The Nutrition Facts table makes it easier to see how much sodium is in any given food.  The label will give you the amount of sodium in the specific amount of food listed.  Check the percentage of the Daily Value (%DV) – this tells you if there is a lot or a little of sodium in that specific amount of food.

2)  Follow the Guide

Use Canada’s Food Guide to help guide your food decisions.  Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide recommends choosing foods from each food group that are lower in sodium and preparing foods with little or no added salt.

3)  Refrain Your Taste Buds

Instead of automatically reaching for the sale, experiment with fresh herbs and spices and flavour your food with garlic, pepper, lemon, and lime juice or vinegar.

4)  Be A Smart Diner

Don’t be afraid to ask your server that salt not be added to you dish.  Try ordering sauces and dressings on the side so you can control the amount of salt you consume.

5)  Portion Control

Pay attention to serving sizes.  Sodium numbers on nutritional label will under estimate your intake if you consume more than one serving size indicated.

6)  Balance Your Salts

Potassium can help to counter sodium’s negative health impacts by balancing your salts. For a potassium boost, eat plenty of vegetables and fruit, particularly dark leafy greens, mushrooms, citrus fruit, melons and berries.

Hope this helps all those high salt consumers realize that they are doing a disservice to themselves and their health and ways that they can try to reduce their sodium intake.

Your Health Matters!

Denise K.

1.Mattes RD et al. J AM Coll Nutr. 1991;10(4):383-393.

2.2004 Canadian Community Health Survey

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