Skip To Main Content

Step up to a Healthier You with the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit

Healthy Eating

The Important Facts about Sodium

a salt shakerWe only need a very small amount of salt for our bodies to function properly. However, most of us consume 2-3 times more than the recommended amount.

According to the Heart and Stroke Association about 1/3rd of people are sensitive to the sodium in salt. As a result, when these people consume an excess amount of salt, this increases the amount of blood in the arteries, raising blood pressure, and increasing the risk of stroke.

Therefore, reducing the amount of salt in your diet is very important, but not always that simple because:

  • Some foods may be high in salt and not even taste “salty”.
  • Most of the salt people eat is hidden in processed foods.

Did you Know?

  • Only 12% of the total sodium you eat in a day comes from the salt you add at the table or in cooking.
  • 77% comes from restaurant and processed foods.
  • 11% comes from sodium naturally in foods.

Sodium: What is it?

Sodium Chloride:

  • Table salt
  • Sea salt
  • Seasoning Salt
  • Kosher Salt

Sodium Additives/ Enhancers:

  • Monosodium glutamate

Other names for sodium

  • Sodium alginate
  • Disodium guanylate
  • Disodium inosinate
  • Sodium caseinate
  • Sodium benzoate
  • Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
  • Sodium nitrate

Sodium or salt is added to our food to add flavour, keep food from spoiling and perform functions such as acting as a leavening agent. Our bodies use sodium from the food we eat to regulate our fluid balance.

Adequate Daily Sodium Intake

Age Adequate Daily Sodium Intake (mg)
50-70 years 1300
Over 70 years 1200

Foods Containing High Levels of Sodium

illustrations of fast food

  • Pizza, sandwiches, submarines, hamburgers hotdogs and lunch meats
  • Canned Soups
  • Prepared pasta
  • Liquid milk and milk based beverages
  • Poultry and poultry dishes
  • Prepared Potatoes
  • Cheese
  • Ready- made cereals
  • Sauces
  • Condiments
  • Salty Snacks, such as Chips

Half Salt/No Salt: What is It?

Some or all of the Sodium has been replaced with Potassium

Not suitable for people with heart disease and following a sodium or potassium restricted diets

Tips for Reducing Sodium in Your Diet

  • Eat less processed or convenience foods
  • Eat less cured and processed meats
  • Take the salt shaker off the table
  • Use spices in your cooking rather than salt
  • Replace onion, garlic and celery salt with fresh product or powder
  • Reduce fast food from your diet

Replacing Salt

  • Fresh or dried herbs (cilantro, fennel, rosemary, basil, thyme)
  • Fresh lemons or limes
  • Fresh garlic or powdered garlic
  • Fresh, dried, or powdered onions
  • Salt-free seasonings i.e. Mrs. Dash®
  • Flavoured vinegars/oils
  • Juice or wine
  • Fresh peppers

Nutritional Claims

Less than 5 mg of sodium per serving
“low in sodium”:
140 mg of sodium or less per serving
“Reduced Sodium”
25% less sodium compared to regular product

To keep your blood pressure in check

  • Reduce your salt (limit sodium to less than 400mg/serving)
  • Have your blood pressure measured regularly