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-   -   The Politics of SALT (http://www.fitday.com/fitness/forums/nutrition-labeling/5012-politics-salt.html)

VitoVino 08-19-2011 02:32 PM

The Politics of SALT
 
Keeping sodium levels below the maximum RDA of 2,300 mg. is unbelievably difficult. I'm thankful I don't have high blood pressure, but since I've transitioned to my new lifestyle change I've started tracking this mineral. It's also difficult to get the minimum amount of potassium, even though I'm eating a lot of fruits and vegetables (staying within my calorie budget).

I don't understand the politics. The government can act to eliminate Trans Fats yet it seems oblivious to fixing the problem of excess NaCl in our foods. Everyone is well aware that most Americans are getting excessive amounts of sodium and not enough potassium in their diets.

There appears to be an easy fix, one that I've just started using personally. There's a "Lite Salt" which is 50% NaCl and 50% KCl. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but it's not difficult. The rub with the potassium chloride is that it has a "metallic aftertaste". But in this ratio, it's fine in my opinion.

So I wonder "Why can't the government require the food industry to start using a product like this, one that would halve the sodium and increase the potassium of everything we eat/drink?"

Just think of the health benefits! While the cost of the salt mixture would be greater, less could be used because it is more "salty". It appears that the cost would not be prohibitive, yet the benefits would be tremendous.

Does anyone else think that it's time that Americans started pushing politicians to look into this matter?

dear_abby 08-19-2011 05:12 PM

Hi Vito,

This thread may become more political than we want it to, but I'll put in my two cents. I question the effectiveness and appropriateness of approaching this problem by legislation.

I think economic means are likely to work faster and better, what you buy communicates well, and if the demand develops, manufacturers will respond.

I'm nervous about getting an "inappropriate footwear" ticket if I go out without boots in the snow, and I see that as likely where I live (Massachusetts). Don't want to give the government too much power over personal decisions.

Many different views will exist on this, this one is merely mine!

Abby

RunbikeSki 08-19-2011 06:54 PM

Hi Vito,
Yes, canned and otherwise processed food does have a ton of salt in it, as do many restaurant meals. One of the main reasons is that salt is a flavor enhanser. Foods that are mostly precooked and then preserved by freezing and canning tend to lose thier flavor, so the processors add salt to beef up the taste. KCl doesn't have the same effect. Not that I'm defending them, just explaining the reasons.

Over the years consumer demand has greatly increased the number of foods available in "reduced" or "salt free" versions and every time I go to the store I see more. Abby is quite right that processors respond to the bottom dollar much more readily than legislative action. And consumers are getting smarted and demanding better products, so slowly but surely the wheels are turning in the right direction.

Now that you are aware of the whole sodium issue, you to are better equipped to make good choices. The more fresh foods you buy and prepare yourself, the less sodium you will be consuming. Scanning the nutrient panel before buying prepared foods will not only guide your sodium choices, but fats and the unpronouncable chemicals added too.

As an odd turn of the issue, I actually have a hard time getting enough sodium. It is an essential nutrient required to keep your muscles firing correctly. Since I am an avid runner, biker, etc (kinda obvious, I guess) I sweat a lot, thus losing sodium. And since I eat mostly fresh foods, rarely fast food and seldom prepackaged food, I find myself supplementing my diet w/ sodium. Generally that's a good thing until you cramp up so badly you collapse on the trail :eek: which happened during a race last year.

almeeker 08-19-2011 06:56 PM

I've often felt that tax dollars should go into the elementary school level and require nutrition education starting in Kindergarten. That would probably make the most difference in the long run. Manufacturers respond to what consumers want. Right now I seriously doubt that enough of the population gives a rip about sodium to make a difference in the attitude of the manufacturers. I actually happen to agree that government could step in and we would all benefit, but that's generally not how government works.

VitoVino 08-19-2011 07:32 PM

Thanks everybody for the great responses.

I wasn't aware that there have been more salt free/less salt versions of foods on the shelves because this is something I just never paid attention to. But I don't think this applies to canned foods. That is what I've been buying for many years and for sure they are loaded with NaCl. I was not aware that KCl was not as good at preserving.

Yeah, I'm for market demand driving things and I too am very leery of Big Brother stepping in and legislating things, but it seems like a no brainer to me to reduce the sodium somewhat in foods and substitute with potassium. I'm thinking there is a point where preserving ends and the rest of the sodium is just added for flavor. But who knows?

I've switched to low sodium V8 Juice and this has worked out great, and of course I could always make my own but I'd rather not at this point. I've also cut way back on my dill pickle consumption (great for a low cal snack) and am supplementing with potassium gluconate tablets when I need to. I'm bike riding/running/walking 5 times a week and I sweat a ton.

Vito

RunbikeSki 08-19-2011 11:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VitoVino (Post 54217)

I've switched to low sodium V8 Juice and this has worked out great, and of course I could always make my own but I'd rather not at this point. I've also cut way back on my dill pickle consumption (great for a low cal snack) and am supplementing with potassium gluconate tablets when I need to. I'm bike riding/running/walking 5 times a week and I sweat a ton.

Vito


Yea, making your own V8 juice seems a little extreme :D.

The foods that I have noticed coming in lower sodium versions are soups, tomato products and canned beans. Since I usually use them as a cooking ingredient rather that straight from the can (well, that's not quite true for soup), I appreciate being able to add my own salt.

I think the thing the government did right all those years ago was require that processors put the nutrient content on the labels. I well remember the days before that law went into effect and you had no idea how much salt, fat, or sugar was in that can - only that there was some.

Believe me the processors fought that tooth and nail, but that is what has allowed the consumer to demand better versions of standard foods. (I still can't understand why Campbells put almost a whole days serving of salt in 1 cup of soup :eek:)

Kohsamui 08-20-2011 02:08 AM

Agree with all the above - mfr.'s will figure it out eventually. My beef is with the scarcity of potassium info on the nutrition labels. Some show it, most don't. I do a lot of custom foods, and seldom have all the nutritional data, so potassium seldom hits my nutrition targets....

VitoVino 08-20-2011 02:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kohsamui (Post 54265)
Agree with all the above - mfr.'s will figure it out eventually. My beef is with the scarcity of potassium info on the nutrition labels. Some show it, most don't. I do a lot of custom foods, and seldom have all the nutritional data, so potassium seldom hits my nutrition targets....


Bingo! Another great point. I was just shopping for some roasted peanuts, went to the store just to pick some up. I looked at 2 types on sale from the same store brand (Kroger). They listed the potassium for the Honey Roasted Peanuts but not for the Honey Mustard Peanuts. I really wanted those honey mustard peanuts but had to put them back because potassium was not listed. :mad:

kylemillerca 02-21-2012 03:32 PM

Anyone else notice that some of the foods already in the system have ridiculously high Sodium levels. I'm pretty sure that a cup of broccoli doesn't have 38% of your daily recommended Na. Also, 2 small chicken breasts = 1700mg? That's over 1/2 tsp of salt.....is this really the "average"?

VitoVino 02-21-2012 04:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kylemillerca (Post 73512)
Anyone else notice that some of the foods already in the system have ridiculously high Sodium levels. I'm pretty sure that a cup of broccoli doesn't have 38% of your daily recommended Na. Also, 2 small chicken breasts = 1700mg? That's over 1/2 tsp of salt.....is this really the "average"?

kylemillerca, FitDay includes sodium in cooked foods because people tend to spice their foods with salt when cooking. Some use more, some use less, so FD does it's best at guessing how much is added.

It's safer to use RAW food portions to avoid excess salt amounts.

With chicken breasts however, I wouldn't be surprised if FD is correct. Have you noticed that all raw chicken is packaged with a brine as a preservative?


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