Less salt please. Pass the whole foods including barley and herbs and pass on the processed foods and snacks. A diet high in sodium is linked to elevated blood pressure also called, hypertension. When individuals eat too much sodium, it can cause the body to retain more water than necessary, weakening the blood vessels because of the extra pressure. High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for stroke and a major risk factor for heart disease.

Sodium is an essential nutrient for the body, which means it needs to be consumed through the diet. So how much is too much? The maximum daily recommendation for adults is 2,300 mg of sodium, which equals one teaspoon of table salt. The average, adult Canadian (1) consumes in excess of 3,100 mg of sodium a day. This is twice the recommended amount needed for proper body functions such as maintaining the right balance of fluids and transmitting nerve impulses. The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) established for the optimal amount of sodium for adults is between 1,200 mg and 1,500 mg depending on age. Research shows lowering sodium consumption to optimal levels could reduce the incidence of stroke and heart disease by as much as 30 per cent (2).

Less salt please. Shaking the salt habit is easier than you think! An interesting fact is approximately 78 per cent of dietary sodium comes from processed and/or convenience and/or restaurant foods. Sodium can be hiding in commercial breads and baked goods, highly processed meats and poultry, packaged side dishes, canned vegetables and soups. Therefore, health professionals are encouraging Canadians to read the Nutrition Facts Table of processed and packaged foods.

How does barley measure up? A 100 g portion of dry grain barley contains only 12 mg of sodium. Go barley! Practise the 80/20 guide from the Barley Balance post Health Promotion Part One – Food Time Management. Dietitians recommend eating 80 per cent of meals and snacks as whole foods (such as barley) and the other 20 per cent from processed, convenience and restaurant foods.

Do you need a few lower sodium barley recipes? Add these five delicious less salt please barley recipes to the meal plan. Slow Cooked Barley Breakfast; Wild Rice, Barley and Fruit Salad; Hearty Bison Barley Soup; Corn and Barley Bake; and Banana Barley Bread.

1) Garriguet D. Sodium Consumption at all ages. Statistics Canada Health Reports. 2007;18:47-52.
2) Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. The changing face of heart disease and stroke in Canada 2000; 1999 Oct (cited March 25 2013) Available from http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/bsolc/olc-cel/olc-cel?lang=eng&catno=82F0076X