How to reduce salt in your diet

While a pinch of salt is good for the average diet, studies show that most Canadians are consuming an unhealthy amount and developing serious health issues. These expert tips can help the entire family reduce their sodium intake and have healthier eating habits.  

By Cara Rosenbloom, RD

Reducing sodium in Canadian diets
Photography by ©iStockphoto.com/Tsuji
Reducing sodium across Canada
With encouragement from the federal government, some food manufacturers have reduced sodium levels in their processed foods.

“We believe that sodium reduction is most likely to be achieved through a joint voluntary effort in which everyone plays a role: individual Canadians, the food industry, governments and health-care organizations,” says Stéphane Shank, a spokesperson for Health Canada.

In June 2012, Health Canada released a report called “Guidance for the Food Industry on Reducing Sodium in Processed Foods.” The report includes recommended maximum levels of sodium for an array of foods and beverages.

Preparing meals at home is one sure way to control the amount of sodium your family consumes and, ultimately, improve the health of your loved ones.

Shopping tips to reduce salt
When choosing what groceries to bring into your home, look for products with sodium contents of less than 15 percent daily value (DV), or less than 360 milligrams per serving.

Whenever possible, choose fresh or frozen vegetables over canned. A no-brainer solution: Just rely on the Canada Food Guide to help you fill your shopping cart and your dinner plate.

Salt by any other name is still salt
If you carefully read ingredient lists and avoid foods with added salt, you are off to a good start. But just looking for the word “salt” is not enough; you need to be on alert for additives and preservatives made with sodium, such as:

• disodium phosphate
• monosodium glutamate
• sodium alginate
• sodium benzoate
• sodium bicarbonate (may be listed as baking soda)
• sodium hydroxide
• sodium nitrite
• sodium propionate
• sodium sulphite

Salt substitutions
According to Derick Rousseau, a professor in the department of chemistry and biology at Ryerson University in Toronto, consumer demand is prompting food companies to do a lot of research to find ways to reduce salt while keeping food palatable. However, there is no one solution when it comes to salt reduction.

Page 2 of 4 -- Learn all about afforable salt substitues on page 3


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