Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sodium Content of Food: You're Being Deceived. Again.

<3 Salt
It has come to my attention, based on talking to people about their nutrition concerns, that many of us are completely clueless to how much sodium is in food. It's not your fault. There are many reasons why your perception of the sodium content of a food might be skewed. For one, just because something tastes salty doesn't necessarily mean it's high in sodium. Yes, really. Another thing: A product that says "lower in sodium" or "less sodium" does not necessarily have a low sodium content. It may just have less sodium than another similar product but still contain a lot of it. And also, many foods that don't have a salty taste at all might contain more sodium than you think!

Now, there's a caveat with this... because I don't think sodium intake is something you should be overly concerned with. I've written on this extensively in the past (see The Problem With Salt Restriction, How to Prevent High Blood Pressure, and A Snarky Rant on Sodium and Blood Pressure). It's not as important for keeping a healthy blood pressure as you think it is.

Regardless, there are many people out there who will completely ignore this advice because their doctor and the media say otherwise. Fine. If you're going to worry about sodium intake, I can at least provide you with some useful tips.

Let's play a little game! The other day I went snooping around the grocery store taking pics of food labels. I've got 5 foods here. Here's how it's going to work: I will give you the 5 foods that I've taken pictures of, but I will only be showing you the unidentified food label with the sodium content. I'd like you to try to place the names to their respective sodium levels! Ready, set, go!

Here are your options:
Special K Cereal
Salted Almonds
Regular Lay's Potato Chips
Whole Wheat Bread
Salted Butter

And here are your sodium contents:

Take your best guess before scrolling down!! Otherwise you're a dirty cheater.

And the results:
Salted Almonds

Salted Butter

Lay's Potato Chips

Special K

Whole Wheat Bread

How did you do??? Not well I presume.

Like I said, your taste buds can deceive you!! Foods with added salt like almonds, butter, and potato chips DO NOT in fact contain a lot of sodium! While grain-based processed foods like Special K and whole wheat bread contain MORE sodium than these salted foods. But since we don't taste the salt, we assume it's not there. Wrong!

If you're going to worry about sodium, despite my best advice, at least do it right. Always read the label!

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