Don't read this with a grain of salt!

Fall 2006 CSANews Issue 60  |  Posted date : May 30, 2007.Back to list

We all know that excess sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure. However, sodium is an essential nutrient and cannot be eliminated completely. The trick is to maintain a low-sodium diet. This can be a difficult endeavour at times, with so many of our food sources containing high amounts of sodium. Approximately 70-75% of our sodium, per day, is found in processed foods, such as canned foods, processed meats, bacon and prepared meals. Sneaky sodium-packed villains often include seemingly"harmless" food items, such as pickles, mustard, ketchup and different types of sauces. Even certain over-the-counter medications contain high amounts of sodium, such as antacids, laxatives and pain-killers. So if you're on a sodiumrestricted diet, you should talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking these medications. The best way in which to cut down on sodium in your diet is to read food labels. You should look for food items that are 10% (240 mg) or less of the daily sodium intake recommendation (suggested daily intake is 1 teaspoon/5 mL or 2,400 mg). And here are a few other hints for reducing sodium in your diet:
  • Remove the salt shaker from the table.
  • Use different seasonings for cooking and baking, such as garlic, lemon juice or pepper. Salt-free Mrs. Dash is a terrific-tasting seasoning and is available in a variety of flavours.
  • Prepare foods from scratch whenever possible, and avoid packaged foods, such as dried soup mixes.
  • Eat fresh or frozen fish, rather than dried or canned. If you use canned fish or beans, rinse first with water.
  • Limit your consumption of fast food, which almost always contains more sodium (and fat) than food prepared at home.
If you're having a difficult time reducing sodium in your diet, remember this: cutting sodium intake by just one teaspoon (5 mL) can greatly reduce high blood pressure. And cutting sodium intake by two teaspoons (10 mL) can reduce the chance of stroke by one-third, and ischemic heart disease by one-quarter.