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Sodium – what now?

Bill C-460, a Private Members Bill introduced last November by NDP MP Libby Davies, was recently defeated by a vote of 147 against versus 122 in favour. The Bill would have called for warnings on foods that exceeded Health Canada’s Sodium Reduction targets. Meanwhile, the Institute or Medicine (IOM) raises questions about the benefits of very low sodium consumption.

According to a new report by the IOM, studies support recommendations to lower our sodium intakes from the 3000+ mg currently consumed daily by Canadians. However, the evidence does not seem to support sodium intakes to below 2300 mg per day. Lowering sodium intake too much may adversely affect certain risk factors such as blood lipids and insulin resistance, and thus potentially increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

So, what now? Based on the sodium reduction strategy experience of the UK, it will realistically take years for us to reduce our average sodium consumption to 2300 mg. As dietitians, we continue to recommend that consumers read nutrition labels to choose lower sodium foods. Cooking from scratch will also empower consumers to use low or no sodium ingredients and seasonings. Get more sodium reduction tips from Health Canada.

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