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How Much Sodium Per Day is Healthy?

salt in foods

Deep down, I think we all know that having less salt in our diet is good for us. Having fewer processed foods, restaurant meals, and cooking with less salt all contribute toward better heart health. It helps to lower blood pressure in those with hypertension and reduces fluid accumulation for those with congestive heart failure or ascites (abnormal fluid accumulation in the body). So really, “how much sodium per day should I have?” is a loaded question. Let’s break it down into a bunch of smaller questions for simplicity and comprehension’s sake.

How much sodium per day with high blood pressure?

Guidelines are set depending on age range. For adults aged 14 and older, the Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends we set a target of 2,300 mg or less per day, which is the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of salt. Keep in mind that many foods that do not taste salty may contain (sometimes a lot of) salt as well.

Food Serving Size Sodium mg
Vegetables and Fruit Fresh and most frozen vegetables contain very little sodium.
Peppers (jalapeno, hot chilli), canned/bottled 30 mL (2 Tbsp) 720-843
Tomato sauce (plain or with vegetables), canned/bottled 125 mL (1/2 cup) 585-721
Sauerkraut, canned/bottled 125 mL (1/2 cup) 496
Pickles (sour, dill) 1 small 324-447
Vegetables, all varieties, canned 125 mL (1/2 cup) 209-439
Tomato juice and vegetable cocktail 125 mL (1/2 cup) 345
Stewed tomatoes, canned 125 mL (1/2 cup) 298
Sun-dried tomatoes 7 tomatoes 287
Olives, canned 4 olives 248
Pizza sauce 125 mL (1/2 cup) 246
Grain Products Grains such as rice, barley, quinoa, oats and wheat are low in sodium.
Cereal    
Cream of wheat, all types, cooked 175 mL (3/4 cup) 370
Breakfast cereal, dry, all varieties 30 g 242-332
Oatmeal, instant, cooked 175 mL (3/4 cup) 216-240
Other Grain Products    
Crackers, all varieties, salted 30 g 192-335
Bread roll (rye, french) 1 roll (35 g) 231-321
Bread, all types 1 slice (35 g) 228-238
Muffin (carrot, blueberry, chocolate chip) 1 small (66 g) 203-232
Soda crackers, unsalted 10 (30 g) 230
Bagel, all varieties ½ bagel (45 g) 199-226
Milk and Alternatives
Buttermilk 250 mL (1 cup) 223-272
Cheese    
Cottage cheese (1%, 2%) 250 mL (1 cup) 788-970
Blue 50 g (1 ½ oz) 698-904
Processed cheese slices (cheddar, Swiss) 50 g (1 ½ oz) 685-794
Feta 50 g (1 ½ oz) 558
Cheese spread 30 mL (2 Tbsp) 491-503
Cheddar, colby, edam, gouda, mozzarella, provolone, camembert 50 g (1 ½ oz) 208-482
Cottage cheese, fat free 250 mL (1 cup) 287
Meat and Alternatives Fresh and unprocessed frozen meat, poultry and fish contain very little sodium. Bagged dried peas, beans and lentils contain little sodium
Meat    
Bacon, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 1555-1920
Bacon (back bacon/peameal, English style bacon), cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 982-1160
Ham, cured, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 621-1125
Beef jerky 75 g (2 ½ oz) 976
Corned beef, canned 75 g (2 ½ oz) 754
Ham, reduced sodium, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 727

Source: Dietitians of Canada

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How much sodium per day to lose weight?

To be clear, cutting down on salt won’t directly lead to weight loss. However, many processed foods and restaurant dishes have a lot of salt, as well as calories from fat. By actively cutting down salt through a reduction of processed foods and cutting down on restaurant meals (or by making better choices), there is also a dramatic reduction in calories and fat intake. To reiterate, the answer to “How much sodium per day for weight loss,” it is the reduction in total calories that causes weight loss, not actually the reduction in salt.

How much sodium per day is too much?

According to Health Canada, healthy adults need only 1500 mg of sodium each day. People aged 14 and over should eat no more than 2300 mg of sodium each day. This is known as the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL). A sodium intake above 2300 mg a day is likely to present a health risk. *See table below for exact figures.

How much sodium per day is healthy for kids and infants?

According to Health Canada, the amount of sodium we need each day is based on our life-stage.

Healthy… should aim for the Adequate Intake (AI) of Sodium without going over the Upper Limit (UL) of
Infants 0-6 months 120 mg/day No data
Infants 7-12 months 370 mg/day No data
Children 1-3 years 1000 mg/day 1500 mg/day
Children 4-8 years 1200 mg/day 1900 mg/day
Teens 9-13 years 1500 mg/day 2200 mg/day
Adults 14-50 years 1500 mg/day 2300 mg/day
Older adults 51-70 years 1300 mg/day
Older adults over 70 years 1200 mg/day
Pregnancy 1500 mg/day
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Definitions:

Adequate Intake (AI) is the recommended average daily nutrient intake level based on observed or experimentally determined approximations or estimates of nutrient intake by a group (or groups) of apparently healthy people who are assumed to be maintaining an adequate nutritional state. The AI is expected to meet or exceed the needs of most individuals in a specific life-stage and gender group.

Upper Limit (UL) is also known as Tolerable Upper Intake Level. The UL is the highest average daily nutrient intake level likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects to almost all individuals in a given-life-stage and gender group. The UL is NOT a recommended level of intake. As intake increases above the UL, the potential risk of adverse effects increases.

Health Check Symbol – What Does it Mean?

The Health Check symbol is a not-for-profit, voluntary program created by the Heart and Stroke Foundation to help Canadians eat healthier at restaurants and shop smarter by making heart healthy choices. Specifically, the Health Check symbol indicates the following sodium standards have been met.

Food Product Current Health Check criteria New criteria effective Nov. 2010
Breads 480 mg or less 360 mg or less
Cereals 480 mg or less 240 mg or less
Vegetables 480 mg or less 240 mg or less
Canned tomato and vegetable juices and blends 650 mg or less 480 mg or less
Milk 480 mg or less 240 mg or less
Yogurt 480 mg or less 140 mg or less
Cheese and cheese products 480 mg or less 240 mg or less
Meats (including packaged deli meats, ground meat, canned meat, meatballs, sausages, burgers) 480 mg or less 360 mg or less
Bars
Dips
480 mg or less
480 mg or less
140 mg or less
240 mg or less
Canned soups 650 mg or less 480 mg or less
Dinner Entrees or mixed dishes 720 mg or less 720 mg or less
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