Sodium is a nutrient that your body needs, but modern eating habits make it easy – and common – to get more than you require. Consuming too much is associated with high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. As of January 2014, Hypertension Canada recommends that Canadians limit their sodium consumption to 2,000 milligrams per day. However, the average Canadian consumes about 3,400 milligrams per day.
High-sodium foods to cut back on or avoid:
- restaurant meals
- take-out meals
- ready-to-eat foods such as frozen foods, canned goods and snacks
- products labelled “seasoned”
- deli meats
- condiments such as barbecue sauce, steak sauce, or soy sauce
Be aware of foods that may be surprisingly high in sodium:
- baked goods such as bread, bagels and pitas
- prepared cereal
Reading labels on packaged goods:
- Sodium is listed in milligrams and as a per cent of daily value.
- Check the serving size: you may be eating more than one serving. If so, multiply the milligrams or percentage of sodium by the number of servings.
- When considering percentage, items that contain less than 5 per cent of the daily value for sodium are better choices. Try to avoid items containing 15 per cent or more of daily sodium value.
- Look for terms like “salt free,” “sodium free,” “without salt,” “low in sodium,” or “low in salt.”
- Note that the terms “less salt” and “reduced salt” don’t necessarily mean the product is low in sodium.
Reducing sodium in home cooking:
- reduce the amount of added salt
- use salt-free seasoning blends
- monitor sauce and condiment intake
- when using stock, use the half the amount called for
- explore all the wonderful flavours that aren’t salt, such as lemon, garlic, ginger, spices and herbs
One of the biggest things you can do to reduce your sodium is to make homemade foods – anything you can make from fresh, whole ingredients – part of your daily routine.
This information is provided by Women’s College Hospital and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: Feb. 25, 2014