Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Me and my anti-salt agenda

I am, and have always been, anti-salt. It's an easy position for me to uphold because I have no taste for salt. Having been raised in a super-anti-salt house, I am not accustomed to salted food, and so I never feel like I'm missing anything.

But I still eat a lot of salt. And, my kids still eat a lot of salt. At home, I virtually don't use salt at all when I cook. But we eat out in restaurants, which are usually super-salty. And we eat a variety of pre-made foods, all salt mines. But I'm trying to be better, for the sake of my health and their health.

So I've started reading all the labels, and have decided to curb my salt consumption to... 100% of the daily maximum recommended amount. And even with just trying to reduce it to this, about 2,300 milligrams a day, is really, really hard. (It's about a teaspoon.) Most Americans consume over one-and-a-half teaspoons, about 4,000 milligrams. Of our many gross American habits, this is one of the grossest.

Kids ages 4 to 8 should consume no more then 1,200 milligrams of salt daily, and 9 to 18 year olds should consume 1,500 milligrams of salt max. Which of course, is plenty of salt. But I am guessing your kids, and mine, consume way more. If your kids eat any of the regular kid processed foods from graham crackers to goldfish to granola bars, they are eating a lot of salt. Even worse, even if you are eating the reduced-sodium versions of foods, they are still full of salt.

I try as hard as I can to never give processed food to my kids, but they eat tons of it. At every lunchtime I'm told their friends are nice enough to share theirs, and at just about every group activity from sports to parties, it's more of the same. Salted crackers. Processed cheese sticks. Fruit snacks. They're all completely full of salt, not to mention their other artificial ingredients.

I challenge us all - lets' start reading the nutrition labels on the foods we're eating, and let's see how much salt we are all eating. I think you'll be shocked. Just don't say I didn't warn you first.

Find a terrible salt offender? Leave a comment here.


Anna said...

Here's the one I saw that started me on this post, turkey and cheddar lunchables, 590mg of salt, which is almost HALF of the salt your kid should be eating for the ENTIRE DAY.

Anna said...

Here's another one, Lunchables Ham and American Cracker Combo is 870 mg of salt. I'm going to stop reading any more before I get even more depressed about the health of our nation's young.

l.e.s.ter said...

This has really been bothering me a lot recently -- I've been eating out and just not feeling well as a result. Today I thought I'd have a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch for simplicity's sake. AIEEE! This tiny package of Oscar Meyer ham slices has 1,850 mg of sodium!! I will eat a measly 3 slices and that will take care of 1/3rd of my sodium needs for today.

Anna said...

i know you're a busy guy, but if you have time take a peek at the salt count in the bread and the cheese for a total sodium count for your lunch, and I bet you will be (sadly) surprised at that, too

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