Sodium

You’ve likely heard from your doctor or read about reducing the amount of salt in our diet.  But why all the fuss?

Salt contains the mineral sodium. While sodium has an important role in regulating water balance and blood pressure, too much of this mineral can be hazardous to our health, particularly our heart health.  

High intakes of salt (or sodium) can raise our blood pressure and increase our risk for heart disease and stroke.  It’s a serious concern because Canadians tend to eat two to three times the recommended amount of sodium.  

Healthy adults should have no more than 2300 mg of sodium each day, that’s the amount you would get in about one teaspoon of salt.

The amount of salt we sprinkle on our foods at the table accounts for only 10% of our intake.  Most of the sodium in our diet, about 77%, comes from prepared, packaged foods (like soups, processed meats, bottled dressings, and condiments), fast foods and restaurant meals.  And the amounts can add up quickly.  

Salt is often added to foods to enhance their flavour or to extend their shelf-life, and many Canadians have become accustomed over the years to the high amounts of salt in processed foods.

When checking the ingredient list on foods, look for the words salt or sodium. Other ingredients that contain sodium include:

  • brine
  • mono sodium glutamate (MSG)
  • baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
  • baking powder
  • soy sauce

If any of these items are listed first or second on the ingredient list, the food is likely very high in sodium. When you see these items in the ingredient list – check the Nutrition Facts table on the package to find out how much sodium there is in the product (expressed in mg’s) and how much that represents as a % of your Daily Value.
 

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