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Canadians and salt intake - an early warning

Posted Jul 29 2010 12:00am

The news , lately, has been highlighting the issues with high salt intake. It can lead to increases in blood pressure, as well as kidney disease, heart disease, strokes, aneurysm, and dementia.

An  aneurysm  is a weak point in a blood vessel wall, most commonly in an artery. Blood pressure tends to push the weakened section of an arterial wall and either cause it to balloon, and/or rupture. Blood fills the cavity with uncontrolled bleeding.

The reason is that water retention swells the arteries, and the heart has to work harder to push the blood around your body. If the heart ruptures the blood vessels, then you risk an stroke.

The Heart & Stroke Foundation  explains it well.

 The Heart and Stroke Foundation says,

  • Sodium is primarily added to foods to act as a preservative and to enhance taste.
  • On average, adult Canadians consume about 3,500 mg (roughly 1 ½ tsp) of sodium per day. This is significantly above the level recommended as adequate (1200 to 1500 mg per day – about ½ tsp) or even the level recommended as the upper tolerable limit for health, which is 2300 mg per day (approximately 1 tsp).
  • Most of the sodium Canadians consume (77%) comes from processed foods sold in grocery stores and in food service outlets.
  • Only about 11% is added during preparation or at the table, with the remainder occurring naturally in foods.

Canadians are binging on salt, eating processed foods including breakfast cereal, cookies, soft drinks, and cheeseburgers that contain tons of salt. Even baby foods are part of the problem.
2 Feb 2010 ... The sodium content of the Gerber Graduates Lil' Entrees Chicken & Pasta ...

New guidelines saying Canadians should consume only half the sodium they now consume. 

Perhaps manufacturers should stop putting so much sodium in products.
The other issue is to read labels. 
This label was on a package of 6 cookies.
If you look carefully, you'll notice a couple of things.  Firstly, the Nutrition Facts are 'per 1/6 tray'. That means that EACH COOKIE contains 19% of the daily recommended amount of saturated fats for Canadians. Also, it has 20% of the maximum amount of salt per day PER COOKIE. Imagine. Yet, this is what we are used to, based on norms for Canadian tastes. 

Food Labeling Guide

  • Make nutrition labelling mandatory on most food labels.
  • Update requirements for nutrient content claims.
  • Permit, for the first time in Canada, diet-related health claims for foods.
Nutrition labelling regulations  and public education on how to use the  Nutrition Facts table  are significant supports to improved public health in Canada.
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