Companies Pledge to Cut Salt from Food

We’re addicted to salt, much to the dismay of our hearts. Even New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “popcorn is not popcorn without salt.” But, in light of concerns over growing sodium consumption and heart disease, several food companies are banning together to cut some of the salt from the food we buy at the grocery store and limit sodium levels in restaurant meals. But, like I said, we’re addicted. And salt is in almost all the foods we buy. So, how’s this going to work?

So far, 16 companies (including Kraft Foods Inc., Starbucks and Subway) have voluntarily committed to lowering sodium levels in their foods by 25% over the next five years as part of the National Salt Reduction Initiative. H.J. Heinz Co. called it’s lower-sodium formula the first ”significant” change to its ketchup in 40 years. But, while these companies have agreed to adjust the formulas for some of their products, the lower-sodium versions will likely hit the shelves with little fanfare. The hope is that sodium levels in packaged foods will gradually decrease without our tastebuds going into salt shock or even really noticing the difference.

We’ve already seen a shift away from table salt (or sodium chloride) with the emergence of sea salt as a seasoning in soups, on chips and in other products. Natural sea salts can reduce the sodium content of foods by up to 50 percent. But, why is all this important? After all, our bodies need salt to function properly. Unfortunately, we are taking in far more salt than we need. The recommended intake of sodium per day is between 1,000-3,000mg. The average diet today contains 3,400 milligrams.  Reducing that average to 2,300 mg a day as reported by the Institute of Medicine, could prevent 100,000 deaths each year.

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