The “Salt Calculator” Has Arrived!
Now Americans can take that extra step at reducing their sodium intake when eating out or cooking at home. A new online “salt calculator” jointly developed by a Toronto dietitian aims to encourage Canadians to curb the unhealthy quantities of sodium gulped down daily. So, why not Americans too, right?
The results can be staggering, said a University of Toronto postdoctoral fellow who developed the calculator with researchers from the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.
“Many people are surprised about how high their sodium intake is,” she said, adding that more than three-quarters of consumed sodium is “hidden” in processed foods and prepared meals.
“It was really to engage people about the amount of sodium in their diet,” “It’s really making high sodium intake personal.”
On average, Canadians consume about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day, more than double Health Canada’s recommended “adequate intake” level. This can lead to high blood pressure and an increased risk of stroke, heart problems, kidney disease and other health problems like osteoporosis and stomach cancer, according to Health Canada.
There are hopes this calculator can act as a wake-up call to many who are unaware they are consuming risky levels sodium, and serve as a tool for doctors to bring up the issue with their patients. It also breaks down the sources of one’s salt consumption, suggesting what changes will help bring it down.
“People cannot make effective dietary changes unless they are aware that they personally are consuming high amounts of sodium,” she said. “Through the calculator, we do hope to show people that.”
The calculator asks questions regarding the user, like age and gender. Then dives right into everyone’s “hidden secrets” and asks questions regarding eating out:
- Lunch/dinner from quick-service or fast-food restaurants (eat-in or take-out)
- Lunch/dinner from table-service restaurants (eat-in or take-out)
- Breakfast from quick-service or fast-food restaurants (eat-in or take-out
- Breakfast from table-service restaurants (eat-in or take-out)
Other areas of interest that the calculator takes into consideration are:
How often you eat these foods prepared or eaten at home
- Bread products
- Baked goods
- Breakfast cereal and hot instant cereal
Processed meats, fish, and poultry
- Processed meat products
- Frozen or pre-seasoned meat, poultry, and fish
- Canned tuna and salmon & smoked fish
Cheese & Dairy
- Cheese eaten alone or with other food
- Milk as a hot or cold drink & milk in cereal
- Canned vegetables, legumes, pickles & olives
- Add a dash or shake of salt to food
Spreads, Condiments, Dips Sauces
- Condiments & dips
- Prepared sauces & marinades
Prepared Meals, Sides & Soups
- Pasta and rice dishes with sauce/seasonings, and packaged mashed/scalloped potatoes and stuffing dishes
- Frozen appetizers & side dishes
- Frozen entrees & meals
- Canned chili, stew & pasta or baked beans with sauce
- Pizza or pizza snacks
- Soup, broth, oriental noodles & bouillon
- Salty snack foods i.e., potato chips, pretzels, popcorn, peanuts, other nuts.