Did you know that, on average, Canadians eat more than double the amount of sodium they need each day? Eating too much sodium can cause high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and kidney disease. Cutting back on sodium can help you and your family to stay healthy and feel their best. When you think of reducing sodium in your family’s meals, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Since salt is the main source of sodium in the foods Canadians eat, your first thought may be to reduce your use of the salt shaker in the kitchen or at the dinner table. However, while the salt shaker is the most obvious source of salt at home, the real culprit is processed foods, most of which don’t even taste salty.
Over 75% of the sodium we eat comes from processed foods such as cheese, deli meats, pizza, sauces and soups. Pre-packaged foods, ready-to-eat foods, fast foods, and restaurant meals are also often high in sodium. Only 6% of sodium comes from salt added at the table, while 5% comes from salt added during home cooking. The salt shaker, while a potent symbol of salt at home, is not the primary source of sodium in most Canadian’s diets. The strategy I use to reduce sodium in my family’s meals is to cook most meals at home, from basic healthful ingredients that are naturally low in sodium. I still use prepared and processed food products, but I try to use them in moderation and select food products that are low in sodium when I shop. Check out the Nutrition Facts Table on packaged foods and choose foods that contain less than 15% Daily Value (%DV) from sodium. This is my strategy to lowering my family’s sodium intake. What is yours?Sources: 1. Health Canada. 2010. Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada, Recommendations of the Sodium Working Group. Available at www.healthcanada.gc.ca/sodium 2. Mattes, RD., and Donnelly, D. (1991). Relative Contributions of Dietary Sodium Sources. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Vol. 10, no 4, pp 383-393.