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Eating just two slices of a medium-sized frozen pepperoni pizza will put you close to the recommended daily consumption of sodium for Canadian adults.
And if you add that to salt in other foods you’ve eaten that day, chance are that you’ll be well over the maximum consumption rate, according to registered dietitian Janelle Botterill.
Botterill, who works for the Southern Regional Health Authority in Portage la Prairie, spoke at a Headingley Seniors Services’ lunch-and-learn event on Oct. 2.
It’s tough to cut back on the salt we eat because most of us don’t realize that many of the foods we normally eat contain high levels of sodium, Botterill said.
It’s not the salt from the shaker that’s causing problems, it’s the salt in many foods on grocery shelves and on restaurant menus, she said.
"Canadians get most of our sodium from processed foods, canned foods and eating out," she said.
Too much sodium results in heart disease and stroke — the leading causes of deaths in Manitoba — as well as in high blood pressure and kidney disease.
Adults should aim to have a maximum of 2,300 milligrams or about 1 teaspoon of salt each day. However, many people are consuming closer to 3,500 milligrams, Botterill said.
One way to reduce sodium intake is to prepare as many meals as possible using fresh ingredients. Using herbs, lemon juice and zest, fresh garlic and ginger adds flavour without adding the sodium that’s contained in many prepared seasonings.
Botterill recommends reading labels on food packages to see how much sodium a recommended serving size contains. She said canned soups and dry cereals vary in sodium content.
"You have to look at the overall value of the food," she said, pointing out that some have higher levels of fat and sugar in addition to sodium.
While it’s hard to exclude salt if you’re eating out, Botterill acknowledged, she suggests that people be aware of when they’re eating foods high in sodium, and then try to balance these high-salt foods with ones that are low in sodium.
"It’s all about your whole day," she said.
Botterill has spoken about health issues at previous lunch and learn sessions presented by the Headingley Seniors Services, said resource co-ordinator Jean Ammeter.
The sessions are advertised in the Macdonald-Headingley Recreation District’s program guide and are open to the public.
Ammeter added that luncheon topics are selected through suggestions.