(NC) - Salt (sodium) is an important nutrient and we need it in our diet, but only in small amounts and unfortunately Canadians are eating too much of it. According to Statistics Canada, Canadians consume more than 3,100 mg of sodium each day. To put this into perspective, the recommended daily levels are between 1,200 and 2,300 milligrams of sodium - which is about one-half to one teaspoon of salt.
Our taste for salt is not good for our health. High consumption is a major risk factor in raising blood pressure and contributes to heart attacks and strokes. But it is a controllable risk factor. Heart and Stroke Foundation registered dietitian Carol Dombrow offers the following tips for cutting back on salt:
Choose fresh foods most often.
Reduce the amount of salt you add while cooking, baking or at the table.
Season foods with herbs and salt-free spices, lemon, vinegar, garlic and onion.
Look for products with claims such as 'low sodium', 'sodium reduced' or 'no salt added'.
Always read the Nutrition Facts table to find out the amount of sodium in the product.
Limit your intake of salty condiments like pickles, olives, soy sauce, relishes and salty dressings.
When eating out ask for nutrient information for the menu items and select ones lower in sodium.
Look for the Health Check symbol on grocery products and on restaurant menus. You can learn more at healthcheck.org.