The right amount of salt in our diet is important for our health. Too much salt, however, can be harmful. In ancient times, salt was worth its weight in gold. It was used to flavour and preserve food.
What’s Sodium Got To Do With It?
Salt is often confused with sodium. They’re both minerals, but there is a difference. Salt is sodium plus chloride and is made up of 40% sodium and 60% chloride. It’s the 40% of sodium in salt which concerns doctors today.
Our body uses sodium to function. Sodium regulates fluids and blood pressure and keeps muscles and nerves running smoothly. Too much, however, can cause our blood pressure to increase and, in turn, increase our chances of dying from heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and cardiovascular disease.
Canadians Consume Too Much Sodium
According to Health Canada, most Canadians take in more than twice the amount of sodium they need in a day. Experts believe 77% of our daily sodium intake is derived from commercially prepared and processed foods. And, yes, this includes restaurant meals.
To decrease our sodium intake we not only have to watch how much salt we use in preparing our own foods, but also how much processed foods we consume. By reducing processed foods in our diet by 5%, we reduce our sodium intake by 4%. The biggest culprits come from the foods we eat out. Also be wary of bread, processed meat and packaged soup.
Eating Healthier Meals & Snacks At Home
By eating fewer packaged, ready-to-eat and take-out foods we can decrease our sodium. Some other suggestions on how to use less sodium at home, include:
- Making our own soups, sauces and salad dressings.
- Eating more vegetables and fruit. Use fresh or frozen instead of canned when possible.
- Cooking pasta, rice and other grains, or hot cereal without adding salt.
- Tasting our food before adding salt.
Find quick and easy recipes on the Dietitians of Canada website.
Source: Vancouver Sun, Health Canada