What is sodium?
Sodium is a mineral that is required for maintaining blood pressure and a normal fluid balance in the body and transmitting nerve impulses.
Is sodium the same as salt?
No. Table salt (sodium chloride) is the most common form of sodium. Others include sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), sodium benzoate (preservative), sodium cyclamate (sweetener) and sodium nitrate (preservative).
How much sodium is in table salt?
Table salt is about 40 per cent sodium. One teaspoon of salt contains approximately 2300 milligrams (mg) of sodium.
I don’t know how much salt I need.
Most Canadians consume far more sodium than is needed. The recommended amount per day is between 1500 mg (considered adequate intake) and 2300 mg (upper amount) for people 9 -50 years of age. For people over 50 years of age, an adequate intake drops to 1300 mg per day until 70 and then 1200 mg over 70 years of age. However, the average daily intake in the Canadian diet is about 3500 mg of sodium, although many Canadians eat well in excess of 5000 mg per day.
Can I get too much sodium?
Yes. The higher your sodium intake, the greater risk you are at for high blood pressure and stroke. If high blood pressure is already present, a high sodium intake may make it worse. High blood pressure is a health risk associated with heart and kidney disease. It is a good idea to have your blood pressure checked regularly by a health care provider. Often an individual can be unaware of having high blood pressure.
How does sodium relate to my liver disease?
As the function of the liver deteriorates, fewer proteins such as albumin are produced, resulting in an accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity known as ascites and in the legs and feet, known as edema. Both conditions result from an abnormal accumulation of sodium associated with portal hypertension and liver disease. Patients with ascites should restrict their sodium intake to no more than 2000 mg per day.
Do I have to avoid all salty foods?
Not necessarily all the time. However, if you want to lower your sodium intake to meet current recommendations, you should avoid eating salty foods on a daily basis. Your physician will advise you as to whether or not you need to restrict your sodium intake. Learning to read food labels to check the sodium level per serving will help you to compare foods for sodium content and to make food choices with lower sodium content.
HIGHER SODIUM CHOICESLOWER SODIUM CHOICESCanned vegetablesFresh or frozen vegetablesVegetable juices Creamed vegetablesUncreamed vegetablesBouillon cubesHomemade stock/broth*Processed cheesesBlock cheesesDill PicklesFresh cucumbersSauerkrautFresh cabbageReady-to-eat cerealsHome-prepared cerealsInstant cooked cerealsQuick-cooked cerealsCanned and dehydrated soup Ready to eat and frozen store bought meals Jelly powdersHomemade gelatin desserts
Rice & pasta mixes
Cake & cookie mixes
Instant potato mixes
Gravy, sauce, and dip mixes.
Homemade versions of these foods
It can be smoked, canned, or pickled.
The seasoned meats, fish and poultry are good.
Fresh meat, fish and poultryGarlic salt, onion salt, celery saltGarlic powder, onion powder, fresh celery, garlic, onionKetchup, soya, steak, & Worcestershire sauceLemon, vinegar, herbsSalt shakerHerb shaker**Restaurant mealsHome cooked meals
* When you make your homemade stock or broth, be careful when you use commercial products, they may contain unexpected additional sodium.
** Read labels carefully to ensure low sodium content.
Always taste before salting!
This usually means you will use less salt. Try this test. Place wax paper or foil over a plate and pretend you are salting a meal. Measure the salt. One teaspoon contains about 2300 mg of sodium.
Add less salt when you prepare and cook food!
Try adding less salt to your food for example, when cooking vegetables, pasta, soups and stews.
Reduce the salt in recipes!
Your taste for salt is a learned taste that can be unlearned. Gradually reduce the salt in recipes so your taste for salt can adjust more easily. The salt in most recipes can be halved with no effect on the product.
Experiment with other flavourings!
Lemon and vinegar are natural flavour enhancers that are low in sodium. Replace the salt shaker with an herb shaker (combine one tablespoon each: dried basil, parsley, marjoram, thyme, sage, onion and/or garlic powder).
Plan ahead to reduce your reliance on high sodium convenience foods!
The more ‘instant’ or processed a food, the more likely it is to be high in sodium. The same food made from scratch has less sodium added and tends to be less expensive.
Be aware of the sodium content of the food you eat!
Read the list of ingredients on labels for other sodium-containing compounds in addition to salt such as: monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium benzoate, sodium nitrate and sodium bicarbonate.
Should pregnant women cut down on salt?
Sodium used to be restricted in pregnancy because it was thought this would help reduce fluid retention. However, it is now known that a certain amount of fluid retention is part of having a normal pregnancy and a healthy baby. Sodium is necessary to ‘balance’ the extra fluid in the pregnant woman’s body. Therefore sodium restriction is NOT recommended in pregnancy. If you think you use a lot of salt, it would be a good idea to discuss this with your physician.
Choose your food wisely
The following table shows some interesting differences in the sodium content of some foods. Try to get in the habit of considering the sodium content of the meal as a whole. Ask yourself if there is a lower-sodium alternative. For example, if you use canned instead of fresh tomatoes in a recipe, you could add less salt than called for by the recipe. Fresh or frozen corn would be a lower-sodium alternative to canned or creamed corn and would thus be a better accompaniment to high-sodium meat such as ham. Remember that 3/4of your daily sodium intake could be from pre-made or packaged foods.
The amount of sodium increases with the process.
1 cup – 6 mg
1/8 frozen- 208 mg
There is one slice, white, which contains 114 pills.
1 slice – 171 mg
Unsalted is 1 tbsp, unsalted is 2 grams.
A small amount, salted, contains 116 grams.
1 tbsp – 140 mg
½ breast – 69 mg
frozen – 907 mg
Fast food – 2243 mg
1 cup – 194 mg
1 cup – 256 mg
7 slices – 2 mg
Cucumber with salad dressing – 234 mg
1 tbsp – 1029 mg
1 tbsp – 1938 mg
1 cup – 122 mg
½ cup – 322 mg
4 oz. – 475 mg
3 oz. – 59 mg
4 slices – 548 mg
3 oz. – 1114 mg
10 pcs – 200 mg
1 cup – 485 mg
3 oz. – 55 mg
Fast food – 990 mg
1304 is the amount of frozen dinner.
1 cup – 932 mg
1 cup – 1498 mg
Water – Tap
8 oz. – 12 mg
8 oz. – 39 mg
Antacid in water
Does the sodium content of the water supply vary?
YES! The sodium content of the water supply varies from one area to another. Some bottled water has sodium compounds added as well. Check the ingredients on the bottle. However, the level of sodium may not be listed.
100 or less per gallon.
101-300 mg per litre
301 is more than a liter.
What about softened water?
Hard water contains a lot of calcium and magnesium. A water softener replaces these minerals with sodium. Softened water, therefore, contains more sodium. If you have a softened water supply in your home, the taps from which you take your drinking water should not be hooked up to the softener.
There are a few quick tips to help reduce the amount of salt in your diet.
- The dinner table has a salt shaker on it.
- The extras include condiments like relish, soy sauce, and ketchup.
- Most of the time, they have home cooked meals.
- Season with herbs, lemon, garlic and spices.
- unsalted snacks to choose from.
- Fresh vegetables are a good choice for unprocessed foods.
- You can learn what food labels mean by comparing them.
- The salt should be cut in half in the recipes.
- Plan ahead and choose your food wisely.
Resources: www.dieteticsatwork.com, www.ontario.ca/eatright or 1 (877) 510-5102.