Shake the salt habit

photo of woman and little girl holding milk jars "Cut back on salt" seems to be popular health advice these days - and for good reason. Salt contains sodium. A high sodium diet is associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure - one of the most important risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

 

Research shows that cutting back on your sodium intake can help keep your blood pressure in check. In fact, even small reductions of about 1 teaspoon a day can help lower blood pressure and keep your heart healthy.

How much sodium do you need?

Your body needs about 1500 mg of sodium each day for good health. Each teaspoon of salt has about 2,300 mg of sodium - that is the maximum you should get in a day from all foods. Most Canadians get well over this amount.

Processed foods account for most of the excess sodium in the food supply, contributing over 70% of sodium in our diets. Only about 5% comes from the salt shaker at the table.1

How Can You Cut the Salt?

Take a look at where you can cut out salt in your diet. Every little bit counts! Here are some simple steps to cut the salt:

  • Choose more fresh, unprocessed foods like fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat out less often. Foods at restaurants and fast food outlets are typically super high in salt.
  • Eat roasted chicken, turkey or roast beef instead of saltier deli meats like salami, ham and bacon.
  • Try making your own soups, pasta sauces and casseroles.
  • Read labels. Look for foods that are "reduced in sodium"; these products have at least 25% less sodium than the regular product.
  • Take the salt shaker off the table - after a while, you won't miss it.
  • Go easy on condiments, salad dressings and sauces - even though we use little of them, they are loaded with salt.

For more on how to reduce sodium in your diet, visit Sodium 101.

1. Mattes RD, Donnelly D. Relative contributions of dietary sodium source. J Am Coll Nutr 1991;10(4): 383-93.]

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