Take a stand against salt

Last week, when I posted my favorite office lunch, people commented on the sodium content (40% of your daily intake). To be honest, I rarely look at sodium. I never add salt to my food (Well, except for popcorn. I have a problem with popcorn. But I’ll save that for other post.) and don’t eat all that much processed food, so I figured I was safe.

I get so wrapped up looking at fat, calories, carbs, protein and sugars while trying to avoid partially hydrogenated oils that it’s hard to give sodium the attention it needs. So because of last weeks’ comments, I looked into the sodium situation, and it’s a scary sight!

Besides the superficial bloating, sodium can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and kidney disease.

While it is an important part of our diet (remember that runner who died because she drank too much water?), the average American eats 3,400 mg of sodium a day – roughly twice the amount we're supposed to have. But it’s not just about snubbing the shaker. Nearly 80% of the sodium we eat comes from processed foods and only 11% comes from salt we add to our foods.

The govt is way ahead of me on this one. A few weeks ago, the FDA said it’s planning to gradually (so we don’t notice it) reduce the salt consumed each day by Americans in processed foods. They say if you slowly decrease the amount of salt you eat every day you’ll eventually no longer crave it.

But if you’re crazy about all that salty goodness, don’t fret! Helen sent me a story about Frito Lay attempting to rejigger the shape of a salt molecule so there's more surface area. This would allow Frito to use less sodium in its products without cutting the flavor. Sounds a little too good to be true (remember Olestra?), but apparently Britons have been eating this stuff for years and they seem fine.

Here are a few foods that secretly stash a surplus of salt:
Deli meats
Canned vegetables and soups
Cottage cheese
Salad dressings
Tomato sauce (especially in a can)

So here’s your challenge for the week: Try to watch how much salt you eat for the next 7 days. See if you feel a difference. Do you still crave it? Add oodles of herbs to your meals so you don’t feel the need to add salt. I’m not saying you have to make everything from scratch, just peak at the nutrition label and become aware of where the white devil lies!

Help me out here. Were you surprised by the amount of salt in something? What was it?

Also, if you're competing in the Challenge, don't forget to email me your weight loss progress. I lost 1 pound this week! That may just be because I've been watching the salt in my diet. Let me know what's working for you!

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“Take a stand against salt”

  1. Blogger Jessica {The Novice Chef} Says:

    Love this post! I am always mindful of salt and am happy to see others doing the same!

  2. Blogger joshie Says:

    I have been half-heartedly trying to reduce my sodium consumption, but after reading your post I took an extra careful look at the nutrition labels when I went grocery shopping last night. I ended up picking up a number of items and putting them back on the shelves because their sodium content per serving* was 40% of the RDA or more. It's actually really tough to find things processed that aren't loaded with salt. Of course, I also am eating fewer processed foods, so I guess that's OK.

    *I mean a realistic serving, not what the manufacturer calls a serving.