Health & Wellness

There’s Probably Much Too Much Salt in Your Bread

A survey of breads in more than 32 countries revealed that a lot of Canadian bread contains too much sodium

By Wendy Haaf


If you want to cut back on the amount of salt in your diet—and you know that you should—you should probably be taking a critical look at the bread you eat.

Almost three-quarters—73%—of 500 commercial Canadian breads contain more sodium than Health Canada’s 2016 targets for sodium in bread products. That’s according to a survey of more than 2,000 breads from 32 countries conducted jointly by a University of Toronto researcher’s team and World Action on Salt and Health, a UK-based group committed to gradually reducing salt intake around the world.

One-quarter of the Canadian breads had more sodium than Health Canada’s recommended maximum.

Health Canada’s targets, which vary according to the type of bread, range from 330 to 550 mg of sodium per 100 grams of product; one Canadian brand of focaccia harboured a higher concentration of sodium than sea water—1,060 mg per 100 grams.

Because we Canadians eat so much of it, bread is the food that contributes the most sodium to our diet— 14 per cent.

The odd thing is that sodium levels needn’t be so high to make people buy your bread. Study results published in 2016 in the Canadian journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism showed that producers could reduce the sodium content of bread by 25% over a six-week period and consumers wouldn’t notice any difference.

Photos: iStock/Sebalos (shaker), Lena_Zajchikova (bread).