• A national Sodium Working Group recommends Canada’s Food and Drug Regulations be amended to change the basis of the daily value for sodium from 2,400 mgs to 1,500 mgs.
• The group’s report says if the average sodium intake was decreased to 1,500 mgs a day, hypertension prevalence would decrease by 30 per cent, resulting in about one million fewer hypertension patients and a direct annual savings of $430 million. It’s estimated such a decrease would prevent 23,500 cardiovascular disease events per year in Canada and save about $949 million annually.
• The U.S. National Academies of Science Institute of Medicine recommends 1,000-1,500 mgs per day for children one to three years of age, up to 1,500 to 2,300 mgs a day for 19- to 30-year-olds and 1,200 to 2,300 mgs for people older than 70.
Tips to reduce sodium
• Doctors recommend the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), based on eating more whole-grain products, fruits and vegetables, lean and low-fat meats and dairy products and limiting fats and sweets. Visit www.dashdiet.org.
• The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador recommends rinsing canned vegetables, beans, peas and lentils before cooking, take the salt shaker off the table and use less or no salt while cooking. Flavour foods with herbs, spices, vinegar, lemon or lime juice, onion, or garlic instead of salt and reduce the use of sodium-rich ketchup and mustard; avoid processed meats; and try unsalted popcorn, nuts or fresh fruits and vegetables as snack options.
• When eating out, ask for salad dressings and sauces on the side. Check the sodium content of takeout and restaurant food, either in store or online. Many national chains have nutrition information for all the foods they serve on their websites.
Sources: Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada; Heart and Stroke Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador; Sodium Working Group: the DASH Diet Eating Plan