Low-sodium meals served at P.E.I. hospital

Dieticians at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown are reducing sodium in patients' meals.

Ontario study found hospitals there serve food with higher than recommended levels of sodium

A sample of a lower-sodium meal served at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown. (CBC)

Dieticians at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown have reduced sodium in patients’ meals.

Just last week, a report released in Ontario found the vast majority of hospitals in that province provided meals with more sodium than is recommended.

Not long ago the QEH was doing the same.

"We did have higher sodium content in some of our products than we expected. It was a bit of a shock," said Catriona Wilson, nutrition services manager.

Two years ago, Wilson says she realised many dishes had to disappear.

"There was a casserole that was very popular, but used canned soups and we had to remove it from the patient menu," Wilson said.

"[Now we have] cooked cereals instead of the cold cereals, because the cold cereals contain more sodium. We have removed the higher sodium choices off the menu."

Too much salt increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

On average, Canadians consume 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day, which is 1,100 milligrams over the recommended levels, according to the Ontario researchers.

At least three-quarters of that sodium comes from processed foods.

Dietician Amanda Rogerson says by serving patients healthier foods in hospital, it encourages them to continue with healthy meals at home. (CBC)

"A lot of the patients I'm dealing with already have hyper-tension or high blood pressure so, the food we're providing them when they're in hospital, we want it to meet the guidelines and we want to provide the education that we're encouraging them to practice when they leave hospital and then go home," said Amanda Rogerson, a clinical dietician.

The QEH does its cooking in-house.

Wilson says if she can keep her eye on the food preparation, she can make sure patients don't end up eating too much salt.