Do You Know How Much Salt You Are Eating?

bowl of salt

We all know that we need to be eating less salt, but that doesn’t mean you need to lose out on flavour.

Why is too much salt bad for you?

The main ingredient in salt is sodium, a mineral our body needs to maintain a normal fluid balance.  But too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which increases the risk for heart attack and stroke. 

How much salt is too much?

Most of us eat more sodium than we need.

Healthy adults should have no more than 2,300 mg of sodium each day. That's one teaspoon of table salt.    

The amount you need is actually much less as the table below shows:

Age

Sodium (mg)

1-3

1000

4-8

1200

9-18

1500

19-50

1500

51-70

1300

71+

1200

If you have health problems talk to your doctor about the amount of sodium you should be taking.

Hidden forms of sodium

There are other sources of sodium besides salt such as:   

  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Brine
  • Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate)
  • Baking Powder
  • Soy Sauce
Sodium amounts in various foods

Food

Amount

Sodium (mg)

Breakfast

Fruit muffin, commercial

1   (113 grams)

505

Back bacon, pork, grilled

2 slices (47 grams)

727

Italian pork sausage (cooked)

1

905

Breakfast bagel with ham, egg and cheese

1

1259

Lunch

Hot dog, plain

1 hot dog

670

Chicken caesar salad

2 cups

718

Minestrone soup (dehydrated, prepared with water)

1 cup

1084

Condensed chicken noodle soup, prepared with water

1 cup

1169

Submarine sandwich with cold cuts

1 six inch

1651

Ramen noodle, chicken flavour, dry

1 package

1760

Dinner

Spaghetti sauce canned

½  cup

652

Baked beans with pork,canned

¾ cup

775

Burrito with beef, cheese and chilli

1 (152 grams)

1046

Quesadilla with meat

1 (184 grams)

1265

General Tao/Tso chicken

1 cup

1285

Snacks

Cheddar cheese

50 g

311

Flavoured potato chips

1 small bag

323

Beef jerky

22 centimetres

438

Vegetable juice cocktail

125 mL

345

Source: Health Canada, Nutrient Value of Some Common Foods

Seasoning without salt

Store-bought or homemade salt-free seasoning blends, which are mixtures of dried herbs and spices, don’t contain sodium.   Use these fresh or dried herbs to season your food:   

  • Beef: bay leaf, mustard powder, sage, thyme, rosemary, garlic, curry powder, nutmeg
  • Lamb: curry powder, garlic, oregano, thyme, rosemary, mint jelly
  • Veal: bay leaf, curry powder, oregano, ginger, lemon
  • Chicken: lemon, garlic, ginger, rosemary, paprika, parsley, sage, thyme, basil, tarragon
  • Potato: onion, garlic, parsley, chives
  • Fish: bay leaf, curry powder, mustard powder, lemon, paprika, dill, lemongrass, ginger
  • Pork: onion, sage, thyme, oregano, black pepper, apple, applesauce
  • Rice: chives, green pepper, onion, cinnamon, bay leaf, paprika, cumin

 

Sodium found in packaged food
What the label says

What it means

  • Free of sodium or salt
  • Salt-free
  • Without Salt
  • Contains no sodium

Contains less than 5 mg of sodium or salt per serving

  • Low in sodium or salt
  • Low sodium
  • Low source of sodium or salt

Contains less than 140 mg of sodium or salt per serving

  • Lightly salted

Contains 50% or less sodium than the regular version of the same food product

  • Reduced in sodium or salt
  • Lower in sodium or salt
  • Sodium reduced
  • Less salt
  • Reduced in salt

Contains 25% or less sodium than the regular version of the same food product

  • No added sodium or salt
  • Without added sodium
  • No added salt
  • Unsalted

Contains no added salt or other ingredients that contains sodium (product might still have naturally occurring sodium)


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