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Kraft will cut sodium by 10%? That's great! But you're far from off the hook

March 17, 2010 |  7:02 pm

Bologna Today's announcement by Kraft Foods that it will reduce the salt in its North American products by an average of 10% is welcome news. Or rather, for consumers, a welcome small step.

For lovers of processed food -- which is to say most Americans -- a 10% salt reduction in one manufacturer's products (even by ubiquitous Kraft) won't do much to improve overall health. As the American Heart Assn. points out: "The majority (up to 75%) of sodium that Americans consume comes from sodium added to processed foods by manufacturers."

More from that organization here, complete with information on how much sodium the average American consumes a day (we'll come back to this) -- and what "low-sodium," "reduced sodium," etc., actually mean on a food label.

Here's today's story, which notes that the Kraft announcement follows similar efforts by ConAgra Foods and Campbell Soup. As examples, the story says the salt in Oscar Mayer Bologna will be cut by 17%, Easy Mac Cups by 20%  and Velveeta by 10%.  

Sounds good, but if the 420 milligrams of sodium in a one-ounce serving of Velveeta is cut by 10%, that still leaves the cheese-product aficionado with 378 milligrams of sodium. Numbers are courtesy of Calorie Count. And, again, that's per one-ounce serving. It seems unlikely that true Velveeta lovers consume just one ounce. (Say what you will, the stuff melts like a dream.)

You may sniff. Perhaps you haven't touched Velveeta since you learned the difference between "cheese" and "cheese-like." Perhaps you're horrified by the very existence of a product called Easy Mac Cup. Fine. Ever buy tomato sauce? Soups? Condiments? (Really, who makes their own condiments?) If so, check the labels. Really. Just check the labels.

A diet heavy on the processed foods could take that hit of 10% and still have plenty of sodium left over to work its magic on heart disease and stroke risk. So too could the diets not "heavy" on processed foods.

In fact, most Americans are advised to consume only about 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.

Enough of the lecture. This is where we turn helpful...

Note that sodium can be tricky. It's not always labeled simply "sodium," much less "salt." It can also be listed as:

- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

- Baking soda

- Baking powder

- Disodium phosphate

- Sodium alginate

- Sodium nitrate or nitrite 

So says the Mayo Clinic in Sodium: Are you getting too much? part of its guide to nutrition and healthy eating. That's why the "% Daily Value" for sodium comes in handy.

Similarly, WebMD offers a fine guide to watching your sodium when eating out. (One tip: Skip the casseroles.)

And the L.A. Times recently offered this package on controlling blood pressure (it's about so much more than food), plus a blog roundup of recent research about the perils of America's love affair with salt.

Our attention to this whole salt-consumption is obviously growing; hence the manufacturers' attention to it. That's great. And needed, as you'll see -- because here's where we share how much sodium the average American consumes every day... are you  ready? 3,436 milligrams.

We really need to learn to make our own pasta sauce.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo: I know, I know, but some people swear by the stuff. So less salt in it is a good thing.

Credit: Bloomberg



 

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Comments (4)

Salt is NOT the enemy everyone thinks it is:

http://reason.com/archives/2001/05/02/weird-science

The REAL problems in our diet are sugar and refined carbs.

NOW IF THEY GET RID OF THE CHEMICALS IN THE PROCESSING OF THE PRODUCT AND PESTICIDES IN THE FEED GIVEN TO THE ANIMALS, WE STAND A CHANCE OTHERWISE I BELIEVE THAT THE FOOD COMPANIES GET YOU SICK WITH THE JUNK IN THEIR PRODUCT THEN THE DRUG COMPANIES TRY TO FIX THE PROBLEM AND DO NOT! GROW ORGANIC IN YOUR YARD AND DO NOT EAT PROCESSED MEATS OF ANY KIND!!!
PROTEST AND TAKE A STAND FOR OUR HEALTH! IT IS OUR ONLY WEALTH!!!

This certainly is a good start. However, our food supply has so much salt, fat, and sugar in it, that this development won't make much a dent in the national food problem.

By way of example, to visualize the problem, if you drink one 12-ounce can of soda (sugared drink) a day this is the amount of sugar you will consume in one year: http://bit.ly/awEpYV.

Kindest regards,

Ken Leebow
http://www.FeedYourHeadDiet.com

Adam is correct the scientific research DOES NOT support the government's and health agencies recommendations to reduce salt intake in the healthy population; salt is only a problem for a small percentage of salt sensitive individuals.

see the conclusion in the prestigious Cochrane review

http://www2.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab004022.html



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