TORONTO – Most Canadians eat way too much salt. It’s in our bread, pasta, meat, in canned goods and treats, so it’s hard to avoid.
This week, health organizations around the world are marking World Salt Awareness Week, meant to remind consumers to be conscious of how much sodium they’re consuming.
We need sodium in our diets, but only in certain amounts. Too much can lead to health problems like high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and kidney disease, according to Eat Right Ontario.
Most Canadians eat about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day. That’s more than double the amount we need: Healthy adults should aim for about 1,500 milligrams.
“Reducing our sodium intake is more than just selecting foods with the lower amount of sodium. You also have to think about how often you are consuming these foods and where you are eating them,” Carol Dombrow told Global News.
READ MORE: 13 tips for healthier eating in 2014
She picked out five major sources of sodium in our diets.
Bread and bread products – 14 per cent of our sodium intake
It isn’t the top ingredient that comes to mind when you think of baked goods, but a single slice of bread could contain 170 mg of sodium – that’s seven per cent of your daily intake. That’s not too bad until you have two slices of toast for breakfast and a sandwich at lunch.
“Now you’ve consumed 680 mgs of sodium and 28 per cent of your daily value,” Dombrow warns.
Processed meats – nine per cent
It’s deli meat, bacon, pepperoni – all the good stuff. Having a sandwich with deli meat on a regular basis is a quick way to increase your sodium intake. Just two slices of extra lean ham come with 619 mg of sodium, more than a quarter of your recommended daily intake. Add two slices of bread (14 per cent of your daily value) and you’re at the 40 per cent mark in sodium from lunch alone.
Canned vegetables, tomato and vegetable juices – nine per cent
They’re healthy choices but Dombrow suggests consumers keep an eye on sodium if you aren’t working with fresh vegetables.
“Cook your vegetable-based dishes at home and choose tomato and vegetable juices with either no salt added or low-sodium varieties,” she said.
Anything that’s preserved in a jar – think of pickles, relishes, olives or sauerkraut – is also packed with salt. A single baby pickle has 280 mg of sodium.
Soups – seven per cent
If you’re shopping for canned soups, it’s wise to read the nutrition facts label. Some soups can contain about 360 mg of sodium – about 15 per cent of our daily allowance – right up to almost 1,000 mg of sodium.
Soups, stocks, bouillon cubes and baked beans in a can are also high in salt.
Pasta-based dishes – six per cent
Once again, cooking at home helps. Making sauce from scratch means you can control what ingredients are being used – fresh or canned tomatoes without salt added and plain pasta are all low in sodium, Dombrow said. Going for seasoned pasta or pre-made spaghetti sauce or seasoning mixes could triple the amount of salt on your dish.
Dining out is how we get lots of salt in our diets, she warned. It’s estimated that about 18 per cent of the sodium consumed per day is from food made outside of our homes.