In case you live under a rock and haven’t heard this message, most people are eating way too much salt! The average Canadian consumes about 3400 mg of sodium per day. The recommended Adequate Intake of Sodium is 1500 mg per day. So most Canadians are getting more than double of the recommended amount. To put these number in perspective, one teaspoon of salt contains 2300 mg of sodium. Health Canada’s goal is to have most Canadians consuming a maximum of 2300 mg per day by 2016.
Salt is actually an essential mineral. It plays a vital role in our body’s cells so we need to intake a small amount. However, an excess of salt can lead to high blood pressure which can lead to a variety of health conditions including kidney disease, stroke and heart disease.
Just how much sodium are you getting? I came across an excellent tool that can help you estimate how much salt you are taking in based on your typical dietary patterns. So go ahead and try out the Project Big Life Salt Calculator.
The questionnaire takes about 5 minutes to fill out. At the end it will tell you an estimate of how much sodium you are taking in per day and a breakdown of where the sodium is coming from. I think the breakdown is great because if your intake is high, you can see your biggest contributors and focus on those areas.
I did the questionnaire, and it came out with an average of 2100 mg of sodium. Now I eat pretty healthy. I eat very little canned or prepackaged foods and eat out very minimally. So you can see how easy it is to exceed the 1500 mg guideline. My biggest contributor, 39% of my sodium intake, was from bread products. I’m not surprised, I do love bread!
Now while this questionnaire isn’t necessarily completely accurate it’s a great start. It’s important to have a sense if you are way over your daily salt limit and what areas you can work to reduce. Also, it’s very important to regularly check your blood pressure. Your doctor should be doing this at your annual physical but you can also check it at your local drugstores that have blood pressure monitors. Knowing your numbers is important for your health.
What is your average intake of sodium? Do you ever check your blood pressure at the drugstore?