Tag Archives: sodium

Sodium In Fast Foods

When we think of sodium and fast foods, many of us think of the burger joints like McDonalds and Burger King. Most people know that these foods are high in sodium, and that an increased intake of sodium over time can contribute to disease conditions like high blood pressure, osteoporosis, water retention and even increases your chances of stomach cancer.

How Much Salt Is Too Much?

New guidelines are suggesting that we consume no more thatn 1500mg per day, it is estimated that the average Canadian is consuming double this amount.

Just to put this number into perspective 1 tsp of salt contains 2400mg of sodium. However most of the salt we are eating is not coming from the table salt we are using to salt our foods or adding to our cooking. While we still want to limit this, most of the salt is lurking in the processed, packaged and fast foods we are eating.

We know that things like frozen dinners and canned soups are high in sodium, but take a look the next time at processed meats, or canned tomato sauce or even certain breads. It can all add up.

Lurking Sodium

Lets take a look at some of the sodium that is lurking in the fast foods that you are eating…

  • Tim Hortons 12 grain bagel – 590mg
  • Tim Hortons Chicken Snack Wrapper – 610mg
  • Starbucks Italian pesto, cheese and tomato sandwich – 900mg
  • Tim Hortons Soups (individual) – average 900mg
  • Kelseys veggie burger – 950mg
  • Kelseys broccoli and cheddar soup  – 1020mg
  • Manchu wok green bean chicken with mixed veggies – 1070mg
  • Tim Hortons Chicken Club Sandwich – 1070mg
  • Mr greek, greek salad with dressing – 1160mg
  • Boston pizza veggie pizza (individual) – 1160mg
  • Swiss chalet chicken soup – 1380mg
  • Starbucks egg and spinach and feta wrap  – 1140mg
  • Swiss chalet grilled chicken caeser salad with dressing – 1730mg
  • Montanas roasted salmon with rice and veggies – 1780mg
  • Swiss chalet ¼ chicken dinner with dipping sauce and rice – 2020mg
  • Swiss chalet chicken stirfry with rice – 2290mg
  • Montanas turkey club sandwich – 2320mg
  • Kelseys nachos and cheese – 3530mg

As you can see, some of these choices are actually the best ones on the menu but they still have increased sodium. It is not really their fault, they have to get their produce in bulk and when they do that it has to be preserved so it wont spoil and salt is an easy way to prevent the spoilage. Also – we demand that foods tastes good, and our plates like salt. The more we eat, the more we want.

In Conclusion

While all of these foods are great and fine occasionally, if you are eating lunch out everyday it is important to re-evaluate these choices and start making this stuff at home. It use to be that eating out was a luxury or social, so it really didn’t matter if a couple times  a month you were over your sodium intake. Now it seems that people are eating out 1-2x/day which as you can see can really add up and increase your risk factors for disease!

How to Read Food Labels

There is a lot of confusion around labels, and what is actually good for you. We went through a whole low fat craze, which actually in turn made people more fat!! Now we see many labels making claims…like high fibre, low sodium. The problem is, we need to be label savvy as a lot of this is great marketing. They replace one bad thing with another and trick us into thinking the product is good for us.

So, here is what to look for…

Serving Size

On the nutritional facts, there will be a serving size listed. For cereal or grains it might say 1/2cup, for bars it might say 1. This is important to note, as most of the higher calorie items are 2 cookies, or 10chips.  This isn’t a lot of food for this many calories, which is why these foods must be limited. They are called empty calories, meaning they hold very little nutrition for their caloric punch


Fats are a very confusing topic for most people. I still get many people in my office that are afraid to eat things like nuts or avocado for fear of getting fat.

These good fats actually help your body to burn weight…not put it on.

The inflammatory or toxic fats are the ones we want to reduce, but we need to increase our consumption of the good fats.

Fats to Avoid – Many processed foods, will also contain processed fats. These are fats that help to add flavour and stabilize the shelf life of the food.  We want to avoid the following fats as much as possible – hydrogenated fats, partially hydrogenated fats. We want to greatly limit things like vegetable oil, corn oil or soybean oil as most of the time they are highly processed. So, if you see a product that claims to be high in fibre, but also has these fats in it…this is not something that you should be eating every day

Fats to include – things like nuts and seeds (except peanuts), avocado, olive oil, hemp seeds/oil, flax seeds/oil, olives, fish. These products contain the good fats, that will help us with cardiovascular function, weight loss and management, skin health, brain health and much more.


Many of the processed foods will replace fats for sugar, or they add sugar to compensate for the increase in fibre (to still allow the product to taste great). White sugar is very inflammatory in the body and in increased quantities contributes to lowered immune system, weight gain and insulin resistance. When looking at a product it is important to make sure to look at the amount of sugar per serving as well as the type of sugar used.  Healthy products will use less than 9g of sugar per serving.

Healthy sugars to look for are things like brown rice syrup, agave nectar, honey, maple syrup, dates, dried fruit, organic cane sugar.

Sometimes when you look at some of the natural bars you will see that they have more sugar in them than 9g/serving.  If they are more, but they contain the natural sugars as oppose to white sugar, they are okay to consume. Lara bars are a good example of this


Don’t be fooled…even some of the soups in the health food section of the grocery store contain more sodium than they should. Sodium in excess quantities can cause problems with water retention and blood pressure. It is advised to keep your daily sodium intake to 2400mg, with an individual product being around 200mg. Most of the convenience food like frozen dinners and packaged soups can contain up to 700-900mg of sodium per serving.  Therefore it is best to cook your own food, or make sure that what you are eating on a consistent basis is not too high in sodium.  Celtic sea salt is not processed, and the trace minerals are not stripped like in regular table salt. Therefore it does not have the same effect of blood pressure and water retention. If you are going to use salt, you can use sea salt sparingly, but also try to find other ways to spice your food like lemon juice or herbs.

Having the ability to be able to understand labels, will help keep you and your family healthy.