Reaction to the Food and Drug Administration’s announcement a couple of weeks ago that it would work to reduce salt in Americans’ diets sparked a lot of discussion about how far the government should go. For now, the FDA is working on developing plans that would allow manufacturers to comply voluntarily, and many were already taking steps to reduce salt.
Have sodium and food reversed roles?
The average person only needs about 1,500 mg. of sodium daily. The average American consumes almost twice that much. American’s have known to cut back on salt consumption for decades, but the majority of salt consumed is not added at the table by consumers. According to a story posted by The New York Times, about 75 percent of salt comes from processed foods. Salt is added to foods by manufacturers and by restaurants as a flavor enhancer. A government-commissioned report reveals that perhaps 100,000 premature deaths a year are from sodium overload and states that salt amounts in some grocery and restaurant foods should be declared unsafe.
Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D., Executive Director, Center for Science in the Public Interest, posted alarming amounts of sodium in some restaurant foods:
- Chili’s Jalapeno Smokehouse Burger, with Jalapeno Ranch dressing and a side of fries has 6,460 mg of sodium — more than four day’s worth in one meal or almost three teaspoons.
- Chili’s black bean soup has 1,480 mg. of sodium — almost an entire day’s worth for many people.
Such high sodium content in foods makes me wonder if salt’s purpose is no longer merely to enhance the flavor of food. It’s as if salt has become the primary flavor to mask a lack of flavor in many foods.