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FAQ: Daily recommended sodium intake, salt types & label explainer

Canadians consume about 3,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium or salt each day, which is double the amount they should have, according to Health Canada.

An excess of salt intake can lead to high blood pressure and heart and kidney disease. It is a major risk factor for stroke and has also been “linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis, stomach cancer and severity of asthma,” the agency said.

Is one type of salt healthier than another?

There are several types of salts used in cooking and featured in products, including table, kosher, pickling and sea salts.

Below is an explainer from EatRight Ontario:

Table salt
This type of salt, which is often found in salt shakers, is composed of sodium chloride, iodine and an anti-caking agent to give it its fine grain, free flowing texture.

Kosher salt
It is similar to table salt, but has a coarse grain, is free of additives or iodine and tastes “saltier” than table salt.

Pickling salt
This type of salt, used to pickle foods, has the same texture as table salt, but does not contain iodine or an anti-caking agent.

Sea salt
Sea salt, which is made when seawater evaporates, tends to be more expensive than the other salts and also has varying flavours.

However, EatRight Ontario notes that all these salts have the same amount of sodium per teaspoon – 2,300 milligrams.

“There is no difference in the how these salts may affect your health,” the provincial group said.

Difference between “sodium free” and “low sodium”?

Health experts recommend people buy unsalted or lower sodium foods, but do you know what the labels mean on packaging labels?

EatRightOntario breaks it down in the chart below:

Mobile viewers, click here.

 What is the recommended intake for sodium?

 Health Canada recommends people over the age of one should eat between 1,000-1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, while people aged 14 and over should not consumer more than 2,300 milligrams per day.

Below is a breakdown by specific age groups:

Mobile viewers, click here.

Which foods are major contributors to sodium intake?

Health Canada says two of the major contributors of sodium in our diet come from bread products and processed food.

 Below is a pie chart put together by the health agency, or click here for a mobile-friendly version.

Major contributors of dietary sodium in our diet. SOURCE: Health Canada
Major contributors of dietary sodium in our diet. SOURCE: Health Canada

Information compiled using Health Canada and EatRightOntario