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More salt? New guidelines for consumption

Canadian Living
Health

More salt? New guidelines for consumption

Hold the Mrs. Dash! Hypertension Canada is meeting in Montreal this week to debate raising the acceptable level of daily sodium consumption for Canadians. I know, a hypertension convention sounds like a total snore, but the results could make you feel a little less guilty next time you pick up the salt shaker. As I write (eating a piece of dark chocolate with sea salt), sodium intake experts are making the case that too little sodium is also bad for you and can lead to some of the same problems caused by too much sodium. Health Canada has long recommended that we decrease our sodium consumption to lower blood pressure and the related risks of heart attack and stroke. The current government guidelines recommend 1,500 mg of sodium (about 1/2 teaspoon) per day as a reasonable target for healthy teens and adults. (Find Health Canada's sodium intake guidelines for infants and other categories here.) However most Canadians consume double that amount — 3,400 mg daily (about 1 ½ teaspoons). The Montreal meeting will review criticism of the current government guidelines, which some experts feel are unrealistic and too strict. New research has linked restricted sodium to increased risk of heart attack stroke and congestive heart failure. The new proposed guidelines recommend increasing acceptable sodium levels to 2,000 mg (roughly 1 teaspoon) per day. Experts argue that this is more realistic (and still healthy) number, but still well below the 3,400 mgs most of us consume. Where does all that sodium come from? Processed foods are a definite culprit — according to Hypertension Canada, our processed foods have the highest sodium levels in the world. But breads, processed meats and vegetable-based dishes like tomato sauce or vegetable juice are sneaky contributors to our salt problem. They might be lower in sodium than, say, potato chips, but we eat them in greater quantities. How much sodium do you eat in a day? Here's a  quick sodium primer: a cup of a raisin and bran cereal can contain 250mgs of sodium; a cup of canned chicken noodle soup can serve up 744mgs; and a tablespoon of soy sauce can use up 1,024mgs of your daily salt allowance. If you're looking to cut back on sodium (even with the proposed guidelines), Hypertension Canada recommends cutting back on processed foods and getting plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables into your daily diet. These are great resources, too: 10 healthy recipes for low-sodium diets Healthy soup recipes under 750mg of sodium Diet File: Sodium Is sodium to blame for your weight gain?
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More salt? New guidelines for consumption

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