Are You Eating Too Much Salt?
A recent study has found that the average American eats enough salt daily to damage their heart – and Canadians are likely in the same boat.
The problem with salt is that it contains sodium. Sodium is an essential nutrient that our bodies need to function properly; however, we only need a small amount. Sodium occurs naturally in small amounts in many foods – most of us can meet our sodium needs without added salt or sodium.
But putting down the salt shaker is not enough – the majority of sodium in our diets actually comes from processed and packaged foods.
How much sodium should you eat?
According to Health Canada, for people aged 14 and over, an adequate intake of sodium is 1500 mg sodium per day. Sodium intake should not exceed the Tolerable Upper Intake Level of 2300 mg per day.
However, according to Health Canada, Canadians eat about 3400 mg of sodium each day – more than double the amount we need, and almost 50% more than the Tolerable Upper Intake Level.
What are the risk factors of consuming too much sodium?
A high-sodium diet can lead to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for stroke, heart disease and kidney disease. It has also been linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis, stomach cancer and severity of asthma.
What can you do to reduce your sodium intake?
Put the salt shaker away – use spices and herbs to add flavour to food.
Reduce the amount of salt added during cooking.
Limit the use of processed meats (such as deli meats, sausages and wieners), pre-seasoned meats and breaded and battered products – buy plain fresh or frozen products and add your own seasonings, sauces or coatings.
Limit the use of frozen entrées such as pizzas and lasagna – these items can be much lower in sodium when you make them yourself.
Limit the use of boxed foods such as pastas and rice with sauce or flavour packets – make your own macaroni and cheese or seasoned rice.
Limit the use of canned soups and stews – use a slow cooker to make your own soups and stews.
Limit your intake of salty snacks such as potato chips, buttered popcorn and jerky.