Are You Eating Too Much Salt?

Canadians are ?consuming too much sodium, ?and putting themselves at ?risk for serious ?health problems

Credit: Flickr/Juanedc

Instead of adding salt to your food, try a salt-free seasoning blend

Canadian adults consume an average of 3,092 milligrams of sodium daily – more than double Health Canada’s recommended 1,500 mg per day

Similarly high daily sodium intakes have also been shown in children and teenagers.

Salt itself is not the problem. Sodium helps balance fluids in the body, assists in the transmission of nerve impulses and influences the action of muscles. It’s eating too much salt that constitutes a health hazard.

Why Excess Salt is Bad for Your Body

Excessive amounts of salt cause the body to retain water. This increases blood volume, leading to increased risk of high blood pressure – a major contributor to heart disease and stroke. Over time, high blood pressure can damage blood vessel walls and contribute to a buildup of artery-clogging plaque. Very high blood pressure can also cause blood vessels in the brain to burst, resulting in a stroke.

Sodium occurs naturally in many foods, plus there’s the salt that’s added during cooking and serving. However, the biggest contributor to excessive salt intake comes from the consumption of processed and fast foods, which account for more than 75% of the sodium in most diets. 

How Much Salt is in Your Food?

Here’s a look at the amount of sodium contained in some popular convenience foods:

  • 1 McDonald’s Big Mac = 1020
  • ½ cup/125 mL Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom soup = 850
  • 1 cup/250 mL Kraft Macaroni and Cheese – Original (cooked) = 561 mg
1 Tbsp./15 mL regular soy sauce = 500-2000 mg
2 oz./50 g Lay’s Potato Chips – Classic = 330 mg

  • ½ cup/125 mL canned vegetables = 215-800 mg
1 Tbsp./15 mL Kraft Peanut Butter – Smooth = 70
  • ½ cup/125 mL frozen mixed vegetables = 40-300 mg

Reducing salt intake helps lower blood pressure.

Instead of using salt to flavour food, try using herbs, spices and garlic during food preparation. At the table, substitute pepper or a salt-free seasoning blend for salt. Most importantly, work at limiting processed and fast-food consumption. Your heart will thank you.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.