According to Health Canada, despite placing sodium restrictions on processed foods, many of these levels have stayed the same or worse, increased. The measure to reduce sodium in 94 categories of different processed foods was introduced four years ago, but despite the great efforts involved in implementing these changes, the food industry has been less than helpful in keeping up their end of the bargain. 45 of the 94 categories (48%) made no progress in limiting salt content and six of those categories actually saw their sodium content increase.
In another disturbing statistic, it may be surprising to learn that processed foods comprise about 77% of dietary sodium intake, with mixed dishes, sauces, processed meats, soups, breads and cheeses being the biggest culprits.
Excess sodium can increase the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and chronic kidney disease. In Canada alone, a reported 7.5 million people struggle with high blood pressure and excessive dietary sodium can be blamed for at least one-third of those cases, 10,000 of which will result in preventable deaths. In the U.S., unsurprisingly, those numbers are far worse.
It’s abundantly clear that the food companies can’t be relied on to keep your health in mind, so you have to really be your own advocate in watching your diet and ensuring that only health-boosting foods have a place in your daily life. Sodium plays a large role in manufacturing a certain flavor in many foods that would otherwise be unappealing, it is also commonly heaped on as a preservative to keep foods from spoiling, so some sodium is necessary, but excess sodium quickly becomes too much of a good thing gone bad.
Here are some tips for you to use to slash those sodium levels in half!
• Choose FRESH! Always. Or, at least, as often as possible. This means fruits, vegetables even meats (if you’re a meat-eater).
• Avoid canned or heavily sauced food items, but if you *do* have to use them for whatever reason, be sure to rinse them thoroughly.
• Opt for seasonings other than salt or salty sauces. Spices like oregano, pepper, thyme, rosemary, curry, dill and zesty flavoring options like vinegar and lemon juice can open up a world of deliciousness totally devoid of salt.
• Always read food labels. There are numerous foods out there that you wouldn’t think are sodium showboats, like cottage cheese for example, which should be passed by or substituted with lower sodium options.
With these tips, you can keep sodium-induced sicknesses and chronic conditions at bay until food companies get their act together, which as this latest report has shown, could take a very long while.