The ongoing problem with salt is illustrated in an excellent book published last year, “Salt Wars, The Battle Over the Biggest Killer in the American Diet,” by Michael F. Jacobson, former executive director of the Center for Science in the Public, discussed in depth Interest, a Washington, DC-based consumer protection group
Without waiting for an official gavel, Dr. Jacobson: “Some companies have really tried to reduce the amount of sodium in their products. There are many tricks that companies can use. “
Campbell’s, for example, replaced a quarter of the normal salt in its canned tomato soup with potassium chloride, which reduced sodium levels from 760 to 480 milligrams per cup without affecting consumer acceptance. Nabisco cut the sodium in Wheat Thins, my favorite snack cracker, from 370 to 180 milligrams an ounce, and General Mills cut the sodium in Wheaties, the cereal my sons grew up with, from 370 to 185 milligrams an ounce. For those who like crispy chips, check out CVS brand Abound’s kale and spinach tortilla chips, which contain just 75 milligrams of sodium per ounce (about 11 chips).
Tips for saving sodium
Companies have found that gradually lowering the sodium content of their products and not getting excited about not claiming they are “low sodium” actually drives consumer adoption. Most people don’t even notice the change. But you might not have to wait for companies to do the job. For example, you can reduce the salt in many canned foods, such as beans, by rinsing them in a colander. Or try my trick of diluting the salt in canned soups by first filling the bowl or pot with fresh spinach and other quick-cooking or pre-cooked vegetables before adding the soup and heating it in the microwave or pot.
If you are hoping to improve your health by reducing sodium, one trick is to avoid a cold turkey. I and many others have found that reducing one’s liking for a lot of salt is relatively easy by gradually consuming and consuming less of it. As your taste buds adjust, foods rich in salty that you once enjoyed will likely taste unpleasantly salty and therefore easy to resist.
When cooking, instead of adding salt when preparing a recipe, try adding salt to the finished product, which will delight your palate with significantly less salt. Seasoning dishes with citrus juices, hot pepper flakes, or other hot herbs and spices can go a long way towards compensating for the reduced salt content. You could also eat less bread; As a category, bread and other baked goods contribute more to Americans’ sodium intake than any other food.
But an even bigger contribution is likely to come from restaurant-cooked food that Dr. Jacobson calls a saline minefield. I noticed that the day after I ate at a restaurant, I weigh about two pounds more, not because I ate two pounds more, but because the excess salt in what I ate is holding so much water in my body.
Instead of government regulations limiting sodium, consumers might consider writing to the manufacturers of their favorite commercial products and asking them to reduce the amount of salt they use.