Mitzi Dulan – America's Nutrition Expert
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“Salt-Free” America?
by Mitzi Dulan, RD, America’s Nutrition Expert®
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Do you prefer your salty foods over your sweet tooth on any given day? What would you do…if, hypothetically, our grocer world as we know it started stocking up on salt-free products? If all foods tasted like low sodium alternatives? Sounds pretty drastic, doesn’t it?

A recent article from The New York Times (NYT) hypothetically, yet boldly explores the possible outcomes of decreasing the recommended salt levels in the dietary guidelines and/or public health officials forcing food companies to use less salt.

It all started with the anti-fat campaign in the ’80s and ’90s, when Americans would opt for “fat-free” products over regular for a healthier alternative and to prevent weight gain. The results? Dietary Guidelines revisions and the idea that the “anti-fat advice may have contributed to diabetes and obesity by unintentionally encouraging Americans to eat more calories” (NYT). And then there was smoking cessation which was successful but ended with a 15-pound weight gain per person.

“The harder the experts try to save Americans, the fatter we get” (NYT). The more we try to take away certain things that Americans have already adapted to, the more Americans count on food to take out their frustrations on. It’s our little way to rebel against something we can’t control…but that’s just it. Public health officials don’t need to get involved with how much salt we put in our bodies, we do.

3 Simple Ways to Reduce Sodium Intake (Without Feeling Deprived)

  1. Eat out less. According to R&I, 87.2% of Americans are already eating out less. When you eat out, it’s hard to tell just how much salt is in your food. Not only does your sodium intake decrease, but so does the money you spend on dining out!
  2. Know your numbers. Current Dietary Guidelines for sodium for individuals is less than 2300 mg of sodium per day (approximately 1 teaspoon). Be aware of just how much sodium is in the snacks and foods you eat. For example, for snacks, a good guideline would be to aim for snacks with less 300 mg sodium. Also, know your blood pressure levels since salt can raise blood pressure in some individuals.
  3. Put…the salt shaker…down. If you’re willing, keep it away from the table. Considering the recommended sodium level, it’s so easy to add more salt than you need.

The more you know about your sodium intake and the more you apply it into your every day lives, the less of a need there will be for “salt-free” products…the healthier Americans will be!

Written by Mitzi Dulan with research assistance provided by Monica Lobo.

One thought on ““Salt-Free” America?

  1. Hi Mitzi,
    You have a great perspective and expertise on salt. It is important to keep in mind that achieving a balanced, healthful diet means more than focusing on just one nutrient. It is also important to understand and incorporate all of the dietary and lifestyle factors, that, when coupled with reducing sodium intake, can help reduce the risk and treat hypertension. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute JNC7 (The Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure) report, the most effective strategies are weight reduction, adoption of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH Diet) and engaging in regular physical activity.

    Thanks you for offering tangible solutions that consumer’s can implement in their daily lives to reduce sodium intake. Here at the International Food Information Council Foundation, we are focused on helping consumers make healthy and informed food related decisions everyday. To see some of our research on sodium, check our our blog posts here and here, as well as this article in Food Insight (our monthly e-newsletter).

    Kris Sollid, RD
    Manager, Nutrients
    International Food Information Council Foundation

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