Less salt saves lives

An SFU researcher says reducing salt intake by one-twentieth of a teaspoon a day for 10 years could save the lives of 26,000 Canadians. Photograph by: Stuart Davis, The Vancouver Sun

An SFU researcher says reducing salt intake by one-twentieth
of a teaspoon a day for 10 years could save the lives
of 26,000 Canadians.
Photograph by: Stuart Davis, The Vancouver Sun

Adapted from The Vancouver Sun

Level 3

Only 25 % of the salt in our diet comes from the salt shaker.
Salt is made from sodium.
And sodium is in “ready to eat” foods.
Processed foods in the grocery store are foods in a box or bag.
These can be high in sodium.
Sodium helps food last longer.

Sodium increases the flavour of the food.
Restaurant foods are high in salt, too.
A better idea? Cook from scratch.

Salt shaker Photo by Platinum (Tracy Byrnes), Flickr

Salt shaker
Photo by Platinum (Tracy Byrnes), Flickr

How much is enough?
We need sodium in our diets.
Health Canada says women need about 1,500 mg daily.
One teaspoon of salt has about 2,300 mg of sodium.
But women are getting about 2,500 mg a day.
The average Canadian is getting about 3,400 mg.
A diet that is high in sodium means a person
might get high blood pressure.
High blood pressure leads to heart attacks and strokes.
People with high blood pressure
can lower their blood pressure by cutting down on salt.
They can cut out salt completely, too.

Real food = less salt
Sodium is in fruits, vegetables,whole grains, meat and fish.
But these foods have less than 100 mg of sodium in each serving.
You might add a dash of salt but your home-cooked meal
will have less salt than prepared food from the store.
Keep the salt in the cupboard.
Bring the pepper to the table.
Use other spices like garlic and ginger to add flavour.

Spices in a Turkish Market Photo by SoMadd (Maddalena), Flickr

Spices in a Turkish Market
Photo by SoMadd (Maddalena), Flickr

Read labels at the store
If a nutrition label says
there is over 20% sodium per serving,
do not buy the product. Or use very little.

Sample label for macaroni and cheese Photo by Writing Program PTW, SU Professional & Technical Writing, Flickr

Sample label for macaroni and cheese
Photo by Writing Program PTW, SU Professional & Technical Writing, Flickr

Other tips
Look for low-sodium or salt-free labels
of canned tomatoes or other vegetables.
Rinse the contents with cold water
and drain in a colander to remove salt.
Fresh or frozen vegetables are a better choice.
Drain canned fish. Then quickly rinse with running water.
Drink a lot of water.
About eight cups a day for women, and 12 cups for men.

Speak out
E-mail or call the 1 – 800 numbers
on your favourite grocery products.
Tell them you read nutrition labels and
like the fact that their sauce has only 250 mg
of sodium per serving.
Or ask them to make a new soup with low sodium.
Food companies care what you think.
They want you to buy their product.

A new study
SFU scientist Michel Joffres helped to write
a study done with Harvard Medical School
and the University of California.
What did they find out?
If Canadians reduce salt by just one-twentieth of a teaspoon a day,
for 10 years, 26,000 lives can be saved.
At least 280,000 American lives can be saved.

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2 thoughts on “Less salt saves lives

  1. It is very helpful if you know more about foods and if there is something or somebody to remind you how to choose and how to cook food.

    • The concern about the amount of sodium in food is being discussed very seriously now. It is a wake-up call for all of us. It will be interesting to see how quickly most of the food companies respond. They do listen to their customers so we must speak out. I actually found canned tomatoes last week which had no sodium added and this was written on the label, too.

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