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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Born pure, salted to death

Given my aging-male issues (blood pressure, cholesterol), I decided to take a closer look at some of the labels on stuff I eat. I was surprised; except for that one weekend breakfast where we fix bacon & eggs, I don’t eat that much cholesterol at all. Through the week, I eat oatmeal when I get to work then have a pop-tart in the mid- to late morning; not much of the artery-clogging stuff.

But My God! the sodium!

It’s in everything, it seems. Even Coca-Cola (which I don’t drink much of) has a little! I had lunch at Subway today, and grabbed one of the nutrition charts they keep handy: most of the sandwiches have like 1100mg (or more) of sodium. Hunh? That’s as much as a cheap can of soup (the Healthy Choice soups are better). The sandwiches must absorb it from the Chinese restaurant about three doors down or something. “On average, Americans consume 4,000 to 6,000 milligrams of sodium daily” (recommended intake is 2400mg, just over a teaspoon of salt). No wonder over 25% of the population has high blood pressure!

I was already taking a hard look at cheese, thinking the cholesterol might be a problem there. Well, not so much as the sodium. Mom was telling me about touring a cheese-making operation last year; she saw them literally using shovels to throw salt into the batch. Low-fat Swiss cheese seems to be the best bet in terms of both sodium and saturated fat.

Even a slice of bread has 120mg to 180mg of sodium. That just floored me; I often make my own bread, so I decided to have a look at my own product. Aha... preservatives. My bread recipes call for about ½ tsp. of salt per loaf (and I tend to skimp on the salt anyway), the only sodium in any of the ingredients I use — at 14 slices per loaf, I get 82mg of sodium per slice. Yup, gonna be making my own bread from now on. And maybe slicing it just a little thinner, too.

When it comes to scary, Stephen King’s got nothing on food labels.


  1. Canned soup seems to be the worse in containing lots of salt. The daily amount of salt is around 2 teaspoons!! Try eatting corn on the cob using that rule and everyone is going to fail. Thats why I buy that "no-salt" subsitute, it may cost more, but at least you can have some enjoyment with your food.

    I've had great results eatting a serving of fresh fruit at least once a day and a ½ an Avacado a day, and I've cut out all cheese, mayo and cooking oils. I just went to the doctor yesterday and my cholesterol was under 180 and my BP was 120/60. Just losing 15 lbs and doing a bit of exercise has really helped, so keep it up.

  2. Salt - 'tis a brutal switch to come off of the sodium in our diets! We did this in our house about 15 years ago...interestingly enough by switching to other spices in minor quantities. The first week or so we tended to over spice everything...but once you get used to not salting most foods you'll notice when there is too much of anything especially salt! Heaven help us....pizza is too salty for us now (but lower cholesterol as a result too!).

    Canned soups and frozen entrees are the worst and of course our favorite lunch quick grabs!

    Keep exercising and losing weight and your blood pressure and cholesterol will both drop some. We are here pulling for you!

  3. Hello FARfetched, thanks for sharing this info. I've been looking everywhere to find info about oatmeal and cholesterol to share with my readers at http://cholesterol-levels.org. Your post Born pure, salted to death is great.

  4. Salt is a modern demon, all right. I started trying to reduce salt right after I was diagnosed with HPB, and I've done alright. I don't add salt to foods anymore if I can help it. Oh, I'll sprinkle a bit in the beans or rice if I cook some, but for the most part, I skip it. I use a lot of pepper and other spices to make up for the lack of salt.

    The real problem, though, is that most everything now tastes too salty, especially dine-out foods.


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