In Today’s Globe & Mail (19/10/2006) there is a major article titled: Exactly how bad is salt by Unnati Gandi. It starts, “The Centre for Science in the Public Interest, one of the not-for-profit movers and shakers in the growing anti-salt movement, says as many as 15,000 Canadians a year are dying prematurely because of ‘excessive sodium consumption.’”
Both Pat and I have high blood pressure and our doctor wants us to cut back on salt. We have been trying to cut back for some time. We haven’t had a salt shaker on the table in a number of years and I don’t add the salt when a particular recipe calls for it. The problem arises with processed foods. It is extremely difficult to find a cold breakfast cereal without salt. Why do Bran Flakes have salt added? Shredded Wheat is the only cold cereal I could find without any salt. We eat a lot of tomato products. North American canned tomato products all have copious amounts of salt; even the “low-salt” V8 juice has more salt than we would like. I have found, however, that tomatoes canned in Italy have zero or almost no salt.
I am particularly unimpressed with Zehr’s / Loblaw’s Blue Menu items. While they cut the fat and use whole grains they do nothing to lower the sodium. They are no better than the national brands in sodium content. Soups are particularly bad when it comes to sodium. Look at even the salt-reduced varieties and you find they are nowhere near the minimum salt level found in our favourite brand, Soup’s On. Soup’s On makes very good soup; our favourites being Hot and Sour, Broccoli, and Pea and Lentil.
Restaurants are another problem. Almost all fast food restaurant meals contain too much salt. Chinese food is particularly bad in this regard. Chinese food requires the flavours found in sauces like soy sauce, hoisin sauce, black bean and garlic sauce, chili and garlic sauce, etc. All these sauces have a high salt content. Though there are low-salt brands, they are generally hard to find. We were therefore particularly pleased when we saw the grand opening menu of Jumbo Dragon www.jumbodragon.com . It has 13 dishes in a Special Diet Plates section that have “No salt, No Fat and No Cholesterol.” We ordered in the Seafood Combination and the Ma Po To Fu and though not as good as at our favourite, Cameron Seafood Restaurant, both were very good. This restaurant is in the Ottawa-Lackner Centre, quite close to Grand River Collegiate. Given the current concern of our government about the health of our young people I hope at least some Grand River students will choose from this section of the menu.