TYH: Reducing Sodium Intake

By Catherine Hansen
January 23, 2018 - 7:55pm Updated: January 23, 2018 - 8:41pm

Health Canada is hoping to reduce sodium in the food that we eat. A voluntary target project had few results, as the agency had hoped to cut the amount of salt in 94 categories of processed food by 2016. On today's To Your Health, Catherine Hansen has more on sodium, and a local effort to reduce it.



And now, "To Your Health". Brought to you by Hart Drugs, Third Avenue Pharmacy and the Phoenix Pharmacy.

(Catherine Hansen - Reporter:)
The next time you reach for the salt shaker, you may want to think twice. It's added to food for taste, but too much salt can be harmful to your health.

(Darcie Bergeron - Northern Health Dietician:)
"The ideal amount of sodium we should have in our diet is 1500 milligrams. However, you can go between 1500 and 2300 milligrams, that's still a nice safe amount. What they find is anything above 2300 milligrams is when we start to see the health factors. High blood pressure, which leads to risk of stroke, and stroke and heart disease are the second leading cause of death after cancer."

Health Canada has been working for years to get manufacturers to reduce sodium levels. Locally, an effort has been underway to get sodium levels down in the food served at Northern Health facilities.

"It's often thought that there's sodium in food because of the salt we add at the table-side, so from our salt shakers. But the salt that is coming from our food is all the processed foods, so things like deli meats, and packaged meals that we buy at the grocery store. And the third, probably and maybe even it's the most contender, is all the eating out that we do now as Canadians."

Making these changes is a big task, especially as manufacturers use sodium to amplify flavour in their products. High levels of salt tend to be found in breads, processed meats, soups, cheeses, mixed dishes and sauces.

"To give you a bit of perspective, one teaspoon of just salt is 2300 milligrams of sodium. That should be your max in a day."

The average Canadian consumes about 3400 milligrams a day, and dieticians are recommending regulatory measures against manufacturers if those voluntary sodium targets aren't met. To your health, Catherine Hansen, CKPG News.


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