Much Ado About Salt

Saltshaker

Salt – we need it to survive yet it’s killing us! No wonder why war was recently declared against this little electrolyte. According to Health Canada, the average Canadian consumes about 3,400 milligrams (1½ teaspoons) of sodium per day. This is more than TWICE the recommendation for good health!

Adults should be consuming about 1,500 mg a day, with a maximum consumption of 2,300 mg; while children should be consuming between 1,000 mg to 1,500 mg a day depending on their age but of course, Canadian children are also eating way too much. In 2004, 77% of children aged 1 to 3 years and 93% of children aged 4 to 8 years were eating more than the recommended amount. So, what’s so bad about salt?

When you eat too much salt your body has to hold on to extra water in order to thin the amount of sodium in the blood to a normal level. This also explains why we’re bloated after a salty meal. All this extra fluid makes your heart work harder to pump the blood around your body. This increases your blood pressure, which is the driver behind the killer instinct in salt – high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. However, don’t forget that salt is needed in the body to help regulate fluids and blood pressure, and to keep muscles and nerves running smoothly, but just make sure you’re sticking to the recommended 1,500 mg a day.

According to HealthLinkBC, The 10 food groupings with the highest percentages of total sodium in the Canadian diet are:

1. Pizza, sandwiches, submarines, hamburgers and hotdogs 19.1% 2. Soups 7.4% 3. Pasta 5.7% 4. Liquid milk and milk-based beverages 4.0% 5. Poultry and poultry dishes 3.8% 6. Potatoes 3.4% 7. Cheese 3.2% 8. Cereals 3.0% 9. Beef 3.0% 10. Sauces 2.9% And 11% comes from using the saltshaker. Stop it! So, what can you do?

Try cutting back on restaurant or fast-food meals, and when you are preparing meals at home try making them from scratch rather than using processed ingredients.

Salt DOES add flavour to our food, but the more salt we eat, the more we like it – a vicious cycle. If food manufactures start lowering the amount of salt in our food there’s a good chance we can beat it…let the war continue!

Image courtesy of TooFarNorth