Sodium is one of the components of table salt. It is also found naturally in small quantities in some foods, but in large quantities in processed foods to which salt has been added.

Although a small amount of sodium is necessary for various bodily functions, the majority of Canadians consume much more sodium than they need.

The effects of excessive sodium consumption

In overly large amounts, sodium increases blood pressure, and its effect is even more pronounced in:

  • the elderly
  • people with a family history of high blood pressure
  • people who are overweight

High blood pressure increases the risk of stroke and heart disease.

Since people with diabetes are at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease, they must control their sodium intake.

How to limit your sodium intake

The problem with sodium is that it is hidden everywhere:

  • only 10% is found naturally in food
  • only 15% comes from the salt shaker
  • 75% is hidden in processed foods

5 ml (1 teaspoon) of salt = 2,300 mg of sodium = the daily recommended amount for the majority of adults.

Some suggestions to help you reduce your salt intake:

Choose Instead of
spices, fines herbes, pepper, homemade salad dressing (vinaigrette) flavoured vinegars, oil, lemon juice, Tabasco sauce salty seasonings, salt shaker on the table, soy sauce, BBQ sauce, steak spices, commercial salad dressings (vinaigrettes), ketchup, mustard, relish
lightly salted or unsalted homemade soup stocks/bouillons commercial soup stocks/bouillons, canned or dried soups
fresh or frozen fish smoked, salted or preserved fish: anchovies, salted herring, smoked salmon
fresh, frozen or canned vegetables (with no added salt) regular canned vegetables, vegetable juice and  tomato juice
fresh or frozen meat cured meats: ham, bacon, cracklings (cretons), pâtés, sausages, cold deli meats, preserved meat, etc.
sliced, raw vegetables marinades: pickles, pickled beets, olives, sauerkraut, capers, etc.
unsalted rusks/biscuits, unsalted nuts snack foods or foods sprinkled with salt: salty crackers, chips, popcorn, pretzels, salted nuts, etc.
rice or pasta seasoned rice or pasta in pouches or cans
hard cheese or soft cheeses melted cheese preparations, cheese spreads, feta, blue cheese
your cookbooks for recipes frozen or pre-prepared meals
A fine restaurant fast food, Chinese food, commercially prepared pizzaSome additional tips


  • Use very little salt when cooking. Don’t add salt at the table.
  • To enhance the flavor of your food, use fines herbes, spices, garlic and onion powders, flavoured vinegars, citrus (juice and zest), pepper and Tabasco sauce.
  • Read the Nutrition Facts table on the label to find the amount of sodium in the food and choose the product with the least (the % Daily Value should never exceed 5%).
  • Read the ingredient list on the label to find all the sources of sodium: sodium chloride, bicarbonate of sodium, monosodium glutamate (MSG), soy sauce, brine and baking powder.
  • Watch out for sea salt, celery salt, garlic salt or natural salt. They are all sources of sodium.
  • Schedule an adjustment period of 8 to 12 weeks.