I found myself channel hopping to wind down for sleep after a busy Monday evening. I happened upon a show called Marketplace. Marketplace is an investigative consumer documentary that affects the lives of average Canadians from coast to coast. This episode was all about the good and bad of sodium. A doctor who was interviewed by the Marketplace host was asked about how much sodium the average person should consume each day. The doctor said that sodium is an element that the body needs to maintain hydration and PH balance, muscle contractions and nerve control, however Canadians seem to be consuming more than the body needs. 1,500 milligrams is a healthy amount of daily intake of sodium for an adult, 2,300 milligrams should be the daily limit. Over this limit can be the cause of heart disease. Surprisingly enough, only 8% comes from a salt shaker being added to a meal. Over 77% of our sodium intake comes from processed and packaged foods. On the show, an adult swim team of healthy men and women were tested for levels of sodium without their knowledge. They were told the test was for cholesterol levels to avoid anyone altering their diet for the test. Most people on the swim team considered themselves to be health-conscious eaters. The results were alarming. 3300 milligrams was the overall average of the 4 men and 4 women. A vegetarian on the team had the highest level of sodium at 3787 milligrams in his daily intake. Canned vegetables, sauces and dips had a very high sodium content. The Marketplace host went into the grocery story to check labels, along with the doctor. They stopped at the broth selection. One box was marked “organic” while another box was just regular broth. The “organic” broth that had less sodium marked on the box, actually had higher sodium content than the regular brand. The majority of Canadians focus on words such as “no trans fat” “low in cholesterol” and “no sugar added.” However, we are not aware that too much sodium could be killing us, especially for those individuals who are predisposed to heart disease and high blood pressure. The host of the show even went as far as to go parliament to interview government heads and ask if sodium levels could not be regulated in our easy and convenient pre-packaged meals. This seems highly unlikely at the moment, so what can we do to ensure that we are not getting too much sodium in our diets?
- Always read labels and do not be fooled by packaging that state, “less sodium” “low in trans fat” and so forth.
- Do not always assume that organic, low fat or all natural equates healthier packaging.
- If using canned beans or veggies, like the vegetarian above, rinse them off thoroughly when removing from the can before using in recipes.
- Dips, sauces and salad dressing are often the culprits, so be extra mindful when adding such things to cooking and salads.
- Prepare your meals at home, using fresh ingredients that do not come from a package.
I think I will use the salt shaker myself, and will avoid those packaged meals all together. At least I can monitor and measure the hand which shakes it. Throw that extra bit over your shoulder for good luck and for good health.