Fact: High Sodium and Low Potassium Consumption in Canada
According to Health Canada, the estimate of sodium consumption is 2760mg per day in 2017, which is still higher than the upper limit of sodium consumption 2300mg per day.
For seniors who are 51 to 70 years old, 31% of females and 70% of males consume an excessive amount of sodium.
High sodium consumption accounts for over 30% of high blood pressure in Canada, and high blood pressure is also related to heart diseases and stroke. However, potassium consumption is much lower than the recommended amount in most age groups. Potassium can help to lower blood pressure, and low consumption is another reason for high blood pressure among Canadians. Health Canada is always trying to make changes to the consumption of sodium and potassium to decrease the risks of several chronic diseases like heart diseases and some types of cancer like stomach cancer.
Diet strategies for better sodium and potassium consumption include:
- Choosing less ultra-processed food like packaged dishes and soups;
- Eating less processed meat like bacon and canned meat;
- Adding no or less table salt to dishes;
- Having more fresh vegetables and fruit containing highs amount of potassium
(Vegetables: broccoli, spinach, potatoes, squash, mushrooms, Swiss chard
Fruits: bananas, kiwifruits, apricots, melons, oranges, grapefruits, raisins); and
- Checking the nutrition fact tables on food packages for sodium and potassium contents.
Try alternative salts (potassium chloride).
Note: people who are at risk of hyperkalemia (high potassium blood) need to be cautious about high potassium consumption. If you are not sure, ask a health professional first!
Food is essential to everyone, and research has shown the relationship between diet and diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, and even some types of cancer. For seniors, nutrients in the diet, rather than energy, are a major consideration. In September, we will start to include a series of health topics about diet and health in this section (e.g. mental health, bone health, heart diseases, and chronic diseases).