My Call for Less Salt in Processed Food and Restaurant Food

too much salt :: fight against sodium in processed food and restaurant food

Salt may not have calories but eating too much sodium can lead to premature deaths due to heart diseases and strokes. In North America, we eat on average twice the recommended daily intake (1,500 mg). Something has to be done. It is relatively easy to cook with less salt at home, if you make a lot of thing from scratch. But what about processed food and food that you eat at the restaurant? We have no control over that.

I am happy to report that more food companies in the United States decided last Spring to join the voluntary cutbacks of salt in their products. On average, 75% to 80% of the daily salt intake of an American citizen comes from processed or restaurant food.

In Canada, a panel chaired by Health Canada aims to reduce our Canadian daily intake from 3,400 mg to 2,400 mg by 2016. But I find it strange that their recommendations do not bring down to 2,300 mg since it is considered the upper limit for an adult.

What can you do at the grocery store?

Over the last 3 to 4 months, I started to check the sodium on all the canned and processed food I buy at the grocery. Be careful, when you buy canned tomatoes or vegetables. Most of them have added salt. For example, Del Monte Whole Green Beans have 380 mg of sodium per 1/2 cup. The same is true for peanut butter, even the organic kind. President’s Choice Blue Menu produces a low sodium collection. In the meantime, read the label before buying and encourage brands with low sodium content.

Let’s hope they will be wise

As a cook, I can tell you that it is to take the easy road put large amount of salt to create flavor in a dish. I do not cook with very little salt and my food is very tasty. I hope that food companies will make more healthy choices than with the fight against fat. The low fat yogurt many not have fat but it is filled with sugar and still have the same amount of calories. But for that to happen, they will have to accept the fact to create completely new recipes.

  • Melamine Lover
    July 30, 2010 at 13:12

    Thanks Kim, for such a timely post. We hardly ever eat pre packaged food anyway, but when my husband developed high blood pressure I started really reading labels. My God, I had NO idea there was so much salt in these things.

    • At Home with Kim Vallee
      July 30, 2010 at 13:54

      And one thing that we do not know is how much salt there is in restaurant food.