../Morning Post
Posted November 13, 2009
Healthy Living

Shake the salt habit with tips from Dietitians of Canada

Toronto – It's estimated that Canadian adults consume about 3,500 milligrams of sodium per day - that’s over twice the level recommended for good health. Excess sodium intake is one of the major causes of high blood pressure which can damage the blood vessels and lead to heart disease and stroke. While reducing sodium intake is no easy task, Dietitians of Canada (DC) has some practical tips to support families to shake the salt habit - at the grocery store, at home or when eating out.

Says Thida Ith, registered dietitian and spokesperson for DC, “According to preliminary results of a research project by the Canadian Foundation for Dietetic Research (CFDR) and the British Columbia Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport, many Canadians, especially families with young children are not confident in their knowledge about dietary sodium and are least likely to read nutrition labels for sodium content. Since processed foods and restaurant meals account for 77 per cent of our daily sodium consumption, a good place to start is to eat fewer restaurant or fast food meals and prepare more foods from ‘scratch’ using fresh ingredients rather than those that are processed. When preparing from ‘scratch’ you have more control over the amount of sodium you add.”

Other healthy eating actions that may help you control your blood pressure:

1. Plan a healthy eating pattern using Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide with emphasis on vegetables, fruit, fibre-rich foods and lower fat milk products.

2. Use the following strategies to reduce sodium intake to 2300 mg (100 mmol) or less per day [a teaspoon of salt contains approximately 2300 mg of sodium]:

o Read the Nutrition Facts panel on food labels for sodium content; choose those with the lowest mg or % Daily Value (DV)
o Limit use of condiments and salted, pickled, cured and “instant” foods
o Experiment with lemon or lime juice, vinegars, wine, fresh garlic, herbs and spices instead of salt to add flavour to foods. While only 11 percent of sodium generally comes from using the salt shaker at the table or in cooking, all reductions add up.

3. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
o A Body Mass Index [BMI] of 25 or greater and/or a waist circumference of 102 cm or greater for men and 88 cm or greater for women indicates that you are above a healthy weight.

4. Limit alcohol intake
o Maximum of 2 servings per day (one serving is a 6 ounce glass of wine, a bottle of beer or 1 ½ ounces of spirits) with a weekly limit of 9 servings for women and 14 servings for men.

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