Why cut the salt?

According to Hypertension Canada, 1 in 3 Canadians with high blood pressure would have normal blood pressure if only they consumed a lower, healthy amount of sodium.

Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) is one of the most significant risk factors for dementia, heart disease, chronic kidney disease, diabetes and stroke. If uncontrolled it can cause damage to blood vessels, kidneys, eyes, brain and heart. The longer it goes untreated, the higher the potential damage.

It’s estimated that 40 per cent of Canadians have high blood pressure that goes undiagnosed, giving  hypertension the name of “silent killer”.

Recommendations for daily sodium intake


Recommended Intake


1500 mg


1300 mg

71 and over

1200 mg

2,300 mg sodium (Na) = 1 level teaspoon of table salt

80% of average sodium intake is in processed foods.

Only 10% is added at the table or in cooking.

Yes our body does need salt (sodium) …the daily Adequate Intake (AI) for sodium is 1200 to 1500 mg for healthy adults, decreasing with age. The Upper Tolerable Intake Level (UL) for sodium is 2300 mg per day = 1 tsp of salt. There is a large discrepancy between recommended levels of sodium intake and actual sodium intake levels by Canadians. The average sodium consumption in Canada is 3500 mg/day (Double the recommended amount!). May people claim they do not use salt, however over 80% of intake comes from processed and restaurant foods alone.

Work to reduce your salt intake by reading food labels and avoiding processed foods and eating out. Simple steps, like reading the food labels, taking the salt shaker off the dining table, can reduce your salt consumption as well. Buy unsalted and lower sodium foods whenever possible. Look for words such as “sodium-free”, “low sodium”, “reduced sodium,” or “no added salt” on the package. Buy products with the lowest amount of sodium, aim for foods that contain less than 360 mg of sodium per serving.

The Stats: Using the Cochrane Review (systematic reviews of primary research in human health care and health policy, internationally recognized as the highest standard in evidence-based health care) results with an average sodium reduction of 1800 mg/day, the effects of reducing Canadians’ sodium intake to 1700 mg per day (3500 mg -1800 mg) were estimated.

  • It was found that this would result in a million fewer hypertensive Canadians.
  • Hypertension care cost savings of $430 to 538 million /yr.
  • Significant reduction in myocardial infarctions, stroke and heart failure.
  • Prevention of up to 11,550 cardiovascular events per year, or 8.6% of total cardiovascular events.
  • Reduction in health care costs associated with the overall predicted 8.6% reduction CVD (Cardiovascular disease)
  • CVD cost savings of $1.7 billion per year (1998 costs) and over 2 billion today (and they haven’t even included all the other disease health care costs that would be prevented as well!).

Worth the change eh?

Check out my radio interview on AM800 CKLW today for World Salt Awareness Week!

Information obtained from Hypertension Canada hypertension.ca and The Globe and Mail.