Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Colbert's Salt Shaker

While this video clip is very funny, Michael Jacobson points out that it is a tragedy that some many people die each year from too much salt intake. Now we can debate whether the number is 150,000, as the health organizations state, or if it is much smaller. However, the question is: Why do we need this much salt?
FDA Salt Regulation - Lori Roman & Michael Jacobson | May 3, 2010 - Elizabeth Warren | ColbertNation.com
Two vignettes may help. A few years ago I worked at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center. I was not paid, but I got to eat all my meals at the center. Their kitchen cooks without salt. All the food tasted good to me, so I did not even notice there was no salt in it. It was not until I left the center and started eating typical American food again that I realized how salty everything was. The bottom line is that if the FDA required companies to slowly roll back the amount of salt in foods, we would probably hardly notice. (Except for the Salt Institute, who would probably notice, which is why they are so against this.)

The other reason the food industries add so much salt is this: Last weekend I ordered some black bean soup from Panera Bread. After I finished, I was really thirsty. I looked on the nutrition info and saw that the half portion of soup had 960mg of Sodium! Now I was so thirsty and had such a salt taste in my mouth, that I needed something sweet. I ordered a smoothie (an extra 260 calories), which cured my problem. My point is that the food and restaurant industries know that by adding more salt they promote people to buy more drinks and other food. (Every try to eat just one salty chip? Ever successful?)

We do not need this much salt in our food system. A reduction would benefit the health of our families, and would prevent many of the strokes and heart attacks of our loved ones.

Conflict of Interest Statement: In 2005,I worked at CSPI on a petition to the FDA to limit the amount of salt in foods.
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