Wed | Dec 6, 2023

Reduce salt in your diet

Published:Wednesday | November 23, 2022 | 12:15 AMKeisha Hill/Senior Gleaner Writer

Sodium controls fluid balance in our bodies and maintains blood pressure. Eating too much sodium, or salt, may raise blood pressure and cause fluid retention. This could lead to swelling of the legs and feet or even other health issues such as stroke, heart attack, and kidney disease. It is recommended that persons should intake no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium in a day and moving toward an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults.

Holiday meals do not have to be boring and bland to keep you on track. Meals, based on classic dishes that are either family recipes or traditions can be updated and even enhanced to bring lots of holiday cheer. If you have health challenges, or have made a commitment to improve your overall health, in order to protect your heart, or reduce hypertension, this could be a fun way to start new traditions.

According to Naulette Reddie, training and education nutritionist at the Ministry of Health and Wellness, sodium occurs naturally in some foods and is often added during manufacturing.

“Overall, more than 70 per cent of the sodium we eat comes from processed and restaurant foods. It is much more difficult to limit sodium when it is already added before it is bought. Going for less processed foods and making more meals at home are great ways to help control the sodium you eat,” Reddie said.

Reddie added that it is important to compare the nutrition facts label and choose the product with the lowest amount of sodium you can find in your store.

“Sodium in the diet typically occurs naturally in food or is added when we are cooking and eating. Those last additions only account for about 11 per cent of our total sodium intake, so even if you never use the salt shaker, you are probably getting too much sodium,” Reddie said.

Other little-known hiding places for sodium are over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Check out the labels and ingredient list on over-the-counter drugs. For prescription drugs, you will have to ask your doctor or pharmacist if the drug is good for you, since you cannot tell from the bottle.

So, steer clear of high sodium foods that could add more sodium to your meal than the actual salt shaker. Protein sources that can easily go over the daily recommendation are deli meat finger sandwiches, turkeys basted or brined, salted nuts, and canned beans.

Dairy products such as processed cheese and cheese sauces could provide an excessive amount of sodium. Dinner rolls with butter and pre-packaged stuffing mixes are heavily laden with salt. Pickled vegetables and pre-prepared vegetable dips could be easily modified to decrease the amount of sodium they would contain otherwise.

So, gather everyone in the kitchen, and make a dish from scratch this year so that you have total control over the amount of sodium in your favourite dishes. Experiment with different pairings to really perk up any dish, such as pumpkin and ginger, green beans with lemon and pepper, beets with orange and clove and purple, sweet, and white potatoes with rosemary and thyme to enliven everyone’s taste buds.


• Use fresh ingredients or foods with no added salt

• Avoid convenience foods such as canned soups, pre-packaged pasta, potato, stuffing, rice, gravy, and sauce mixes

• Be creative and season your foods with lots of spices, herbs, lemon, garlic, ginger, vinegar and pepper

• Use fresh, frozen, no-added-salt canned vegetables, or canned vegetables that have been drained and rinsed before they are prepared

• Avoid mixed seasonings and spice blends that include salt, such as garlic salt

• Avoid adding ham, bacon, sausage, or salted pork to vegetable and side dishes

• Choose low, reduced, or no sodium varieties of broth, and dry or oil-less roux mixes when making gumbos and stews

• For favourite recipes, you may need to use other ingredients and delete or decrease the salt added. Salt can be removed from any recipe except from those containing yeast

• Sea salt contains the same amount of sodium as iodised salt

SOURCE: Ministry of Health and Wellness