Sodium in China and Japan
In the U.S. and Europe, prepared and processed foods account for as much as 75 percent of daily sodium intake. It’s a different—yet still highly salty—story in China and Japan, where the salt shaker and salty condiments like soy sauce are the leading sources of sodium. ()
In China, for example, salt added during cooking or at the table accounts for about 72 to 76 percent of sodium intake, and soy sauce accounts for another 6 to 8 percent. In Japan, soy sauce accounts for 20 percent of daily sodium intake, followed by salted vegetables and fruits, miso soup, fresh and salted fish, and added salt in restaurants, fast food and at home. ()
Lower Salt and Sodium— A Key to Good Health: An in-depth article about the health hazards of too much salt, and how we can reduce salt and sodium intake
: Science-based strategies and culinary insights from the HSPH Dept. of Nutrition and The Culinary Institute of America on how to preserve flavor and cut back on salt
: Fourteen lower-sodium recipes from The Culinary Institute of America that use herbs, spices, and culinary techniques to boost flavor
: Seasonings that will help you skip the salt
These trends suggest that in China and Japan, reshaping individual food choices will play an important role in sodium reduction strategies, since individuals have a good bit of control over the sodium they consume. Ways to cut back on sodium in Asian dishes include the following:
- Try lower sodium versions of favorite traditional foods, such as lower sodium miso.
- Use smaller amounts of high-sodium condiments, such as soy sauce or pickles, and use these salty condiments in place of added salt.
- Avoid aggregating several high-sodium foods within a single meal: If miso soup is the appetizer, choose a fresh vegetable side dish, rather than salted pickles.
- Getting enough potassium can mitigate some of the hazards of a high-sodium diet. Vegetables are highly esteemed in Asian cuisine and are an excellent source of potassium, so they can help offset some of the sodium used in traditional cooking.
1. Brown IJ, Tzoulaki I, Candeias V, Elliott P. Salt intakes around the world: implications for public health. Int J Epidemiol. 2009; 38:791-813.
The aim of the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source is to provide timely information on diet and nutrition for clinicians, allied health professionals, and the public. The contents of this Web site are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Web site. The information does not mention brand names, nor does it endorse any particular products.