Friday, March 27, 2009

Toss the Salt Grinder?

The average American consumes between 4000-5000 mg sodium per day, far exceeding the <2300 mg sodium recommendation. Many healthcare practitioners and self help articles recommend that people cut out the table salt to help remedy this excess.
However, this might not be the best approach and here's why.

The sources of sodium in the US diet are: 77% processed foods, 12% naturally occurring in fresh foods, 6% salt added at the table, and just 5% salt added in cooking. When people stop adding salt at the table or in home cooking they are really affecting their sodium intake only a small degree or ~10%. By focusing on the salt grinder it also lets the processed food makers off the hook. Look at the sodium content of any convenience food label and the facts will become glaringly clear. Tyson, Kraft, Campbell's, Stouffers, Nabisco, Frito Lay and even some of the cereal manufacturers make hefty contributions in the sodium arena. While I always advocate that a person tries a food before automatically reaching for the salt shaker, lightly adding a little salt at the table is a great way to add a little flavor. When the salt sits on top of the food it hits the taste buds first so you hopefully consume less in the end. As people cut back on their grocery bills and do more scratch cooking, less convenience foods they may actually cut their sodium and improve their health and save a few bucks along the way.

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