From the Desk of our Renal Dietitians

Shake That Salt Habit!

by June Martin, RD, CDE
(Spice It Up! Issue Winter 2013/2014)

Salt or sodium reduction is important for all Canadians, but it is especially critical for those who have or are at risk for Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). The kidneys play an important role in the balance between sodium and fluids, and when the kidneys aren’t working, this balance is disrupted. Eating too much salt can contribute to high blood pressure, edema (swelling), and cardiovascular disease.

But what if you don’t add salt to your food? This doesn’t necessarily mean you eat a low salt diet. In fact, the bulk of the sodium in our diets comes from prepared or processed foods – NOT from the salt we add at home while cooking or at the table. Canadians consume an average of 3500mg sodium per day, which is more than double the recommended amount of sodium for someone with CKD. And of this, 77% comes from processed, packaged or restaurant foods! So what to do?

Label reading is key
Most CKD patients should aim for less than 2000mg of sodium per day. So if you’re buying packaged foods this means you need to read the labels! A good rule of thumb is to look for products with 7% or less of the DV (daily value) for sodium. It’s important to take a look at the serving size and make sure that it is a portion you’d actually eat!

Home cooking is best
If you want to reduce your sodium intake without sacrificing flavour, it’s time to Spice it up! Check out how much sodium you can save by using fresh unprocessed foods and the recipes from our recipe books or from! Plan ahead and make sure you have the ingredients on hand so that preparing these recipes is quick and easy. Many of the Spice it up! recipes can be frozen for convenient reheating later. This will give you a low sodium option when you're too tired, busy or unwell to cook. When your schedule allows, cook meals and muffins ahead of time and freeze extra portions for a kidney friendly frozen dinner or snack later in the week! Keep in mind that it may take a few weeks for your taste buds to adapt to a lower sodium intake.

Spice it up! recipes are low in sodium
For example, our Marinara Meatballs provide 302mg sodium per serving and freeze very well. Compare this to commercially prepared frozen meatballs in tomato sauce that has over 1000mg per serving! And it’s not just savoury foods that contain sodium.
Many commercial cereal and granola bars pack a sodium punch, containing anywhere from 80 to 250mg of sodium per serving. Our Honey Cereal Snack Bars are deliciously low in sodium at only 26mg sodium per bar! The added benefit from home cooking with our recipes is that you know your food is not only low in sodium but also low in potassium and phosphorus.

Take a look at the comparisons below. The typical day consists of products that are prepared and frozen that you might reheat at home (along with a muffin from your favourite coffee place). By making flavourful, fresh food at home you can cut your sodium intake by an impressive 70%!!!

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