A significant number of adults in Canada consume too much sodium.
How significant you ask?
Recent data suggests its close to 75% of men and 50% of women who consume sodium beyond recommended levels.
The problem is admittedly much more significant in men with more than 90% of males between the ages of 14-30 are consuming excess levels of sodium.
This is quite staggering, particularly when you consider the fact that sodium is a primary driver of high blood pressure and high blood pressure medication is the most frequently reported to be used in Canada.
High blood pressure, of course, contributes negatively to a number of aspects of human health including both cardiovascular health and sexual health.
To quote a 2013 British Medical Journal paper:
“The totality of evidence suggests that most people will likely benefit from reducing sodium intake”
But where is all this sodium coming from?
Let’s find out.
The Top 5 Sources Of Dietary Sodium
1. Bakery Products – Such as bread, muffins, cookies, desserts, crackers & granola bars. For those trying to reduce their sodium intake reading nutrition labels for products in these categories and choosing lower sodium options will certainly help.
2. Mixed Dishes – Such as pizza, lasagna and pre-prepared salads as well as frozen products like appetizers, entrees and potatos. Cooking these types of meals at home, where you can control the sodium content, in addition to label reading/comparison where possible, is your best strategy with these items.
3. Processed Meats – Such as sausages, deli meats and other products like chicken wings, burgers. Processed meats such as ham, salamai, hot dogs are really not great for human health so omitting them works on multiple levels – as always with some of these other products you have the ability to either make them from home or read labels to compare sodium content and choose the lower options.
4. Cheese – When purchasing pre-packaged cheese products label reading could help you to determine which cheeses are lowest – the content may vary significantly across cheese types with cottage cheese perhaps the most likely to be the lowest sodium variety.
5. Soups/Sauces – And other products that are canned/bottles like condiments, dressings etc. Again, your best defense is to compare product nutrition labels and choose the lowest sodium versions, to look for low sodium language on the product itself (ie; low sodium ketchup), or to make low-sodium alternatives at home instead.
Focus On Potassium To Fight Back Further
If you are struggling with reducing your sodium intake OR you want to accentuate your efforts then I absolutely recommend focusing on potassium.
While sodium is a primary driver of high blood pressure, potassium is one of your best defenses against it.
Many people do not consume adequate dietary potassium.
Good thing I’ve got a blog post on it though:
Oh and did I mention I’ve got a book in this area too?
Hope today’s post helped.
Until next time,
Andy De Santis RD MPH