CDC: 90% Of Americans Eating Unhealthy Amounts Of Salt

Salt tastes good. It makes bland things taste less bland. But apparently, we the people of these United States of America have been salting our bland food a little too heavily. A new report says that almost every single one of us is consuming too much salt.

In fact, says the Centers for Disease Control, most Americans are consuming double the recommended daily allowance of salt. And around 77% of it comes from processed foods and restaurant foods.

Says a CDC rep, complete with lab coat and clipboard:

Sodium has become so pervasive in our food supply that it’s difficult for the vast majority of Americans to stay within recommended limits… Public health professionals, together with food manufacturers, retailers and healthcare providers, must take action now to help support people’s efforts to reduce their sodium consumption.

2005 dietary guidelines pegged the maximum recommended daily intake of sodium at 2,300 mg. This year, they’d like to trim that down to 1,500 mg/day. Regardless, the CDC’s study shows most of us are taking in around 3,466 mg of sodium each day.

According to the CDC, the biggest culprits are grain-based foods, which account for 36.9 % of our daily intake of sodium. Next on the list are meat, chicken and fish, which account for 27.9%.

Many of the country’s largest food producers are at least paying lip service to cutting down the amount of sodium in their products. The folks at PepsiCo have created a designer salt that requires less sodium to deliver the same amount of salt taste. They are currently producing small batches of the salt for future use on their Lay’s brand potato chips.

Nine in 10 Americans eat too much salt: CDC [Reuters]

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  1. Ben says:

    I’m sure in about 10 minutes the Consumerist will post another article about how delicious bacon is, and this whole sodium nonsense will be quickly forgotten.

    • catnapped says:

      Oh yes yes…a post made with BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACON.

      MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmm

    • charrisonrd says:

      Ben, it may be forgotten until the person starts suffering from high blood pressure, one of the major causes of renal failure. I work as a registered dietitian and I am a board certified specialist in renal nutrition. Decreasing the sodium intake is one of the first interventions for treating impaired renal function ( kidney disease). You will be shocked when you read labels and find out how much extra sodium is added to convenience foods. But there is also a lot of sodium in pickles, olives, sauces, cottage cheese, processed cheeses. One meal from a fried chicken establishment can contribute as much of more than 2000mg of sodium in just that one meal. Getting back to using fresh herbs to season our foods, using products such as Mrs. Dash or garlic powders instead of garlic salt can help improved the taste.

  2. ChuckECheese says:

    Many under-30 Ayn Rand libertarians on here will complain that we shouldn’t interfere. The issue is, our food is being adulterated in a manner that makes it unhealthy to eat, and the problem has become so pervasive that alternatives are largely unavailable. So in a free society, is it okay to poison people? Salt is poisonous in large quantities.

    15 years ago there were many more low-sodium alternative foods available than there are today. Retailers want to carry the fewest number of high-selling items; they aren’t interested in selling niche items. The only alternative then is to reduce the sodium content of all foods. Either that, or we must all become subsistence farmers.

    • dolemite says:

      Good point. Basically anything you buy in a grocery store, unless it is produce has sodium added to it.

      People think they are fine by not sprinkling salt on their potato, but then the sodium of the 10 chicken nuggets they ate with the potato is 2x the RDA. And then they eat 2 more meals that day, and each one has a processed food that also has 1.5x the RDA.

      Not that I am an health nut: I probably eat 3x the RDA of sodium in a day, but I’d like it if foods didn’t have all that sodium added to them.

      • Limewater says:

        I don’t have a hard time avoiding sodium at all. Sure, grocery stores sell a lot of crap. Don’t buy the crap. The idea that we don’t have low-sodium alternatives is ridiculous. Sure, we don’t have an alternative of sodium-free potato chips, but we do have the option of sodium-free other things. I chow down every day on unsalted dry roasted peanuts along with bananas and carrots and other low-cost, delicious, sodium-free foods.

        • ARP says:

          At what price? Most low sodium, HFCS, low/no preservative foods are much more expensive than their cheap counterparts.

          • Limewater says:

            I pay between $2 and $3 for a pound of unsalted peanuts. Occasionally, they’re on sale for less. That’s pretty cheap compared with most processed snack foods. Bananas are usually around fifty to eighty cents a pound, making them again cheaper than most processed snacks. Carrots are usually about eighty cents a pound, and are very filling.

            The idea that the processed, high-sodium, high HFCS foods are cheaper is usually bogus, from my experience. You just have to be willing to cook something every once in a while. And if you aren’t cooking, you’re probably getting too much processed crap regardless of how much you’re spending on food.

            • Verdant Pine Trees says:

              No, it’s not bogus.

              We eat as low a salt diet as we can, but we pay for it, either in time or money. I have no problem making my own tomato sauce from scratch and finding whole wheat pasta at one of the more upscale groceries I can reach by car, but I’m not going to fault a young single mother who doesn’t have the time or money, and probably never learned how to cook her own food, if she wants to buy a bottle of Prego. Even if that Prego says it’s heart healthy, you’ll find usually that it packs a wallop of either or both HFCS and sodium. Take some time and check out what the produce aisles of a bodega, or even the Wal-Mart, have to offer. Not so many choices if you want to go healthy and you have no idea how to cook.

              Many of my friends in college were sanctimonious foodie types (“You shouldn’t buy a box of rice, you wasteful single person, you should buy a big bag and eat it for a year!”), so I used to be really embarrassed, even ashamed that I couldn’t cook. Then I realized I actually already knew – what with having the knowledge to boil and/or scramble eggs – a lot more than many of the people, especially those under 30. I started with simple stuff and got better at it. Now my sanctimonious foodie friends like to eat at our house, because we are now good cooks. I have all kinds of appliances that help me make healthy food for my family, and I have the knowledge to make better choices when I do order out – but it took time. Working from home for several years, and learning about things like freezer cooking and so on, certainly helped.

              Again, not everyone knows how to cook, has the prep time to cook healthier food, or has access to markets that provide a variety of good tasting, healthy produce. These people probably can learn to be resourceful where they’re at, especially if the community has say, an ethnic market (low cost, local vegetables) but they need positive reinforcement and support.

              • Limewater says:

                The bodega argument doesn’t hold up very well, from my experience. Those places are usually in urban areas, from my experience, where there is usually some form of public transportation. If you’re planning on spending more than $5 at a time at a place like that, you’re better off taking the bus somewhere better because their prices on everything are awful.
                And it’s not like not knowing how to cook is some sort of incurable physical disability. If someone is physically disabled and lives alone, that’s a very different situation.

                • newsbunny says:

                  And how do you get the groceries home, on the bus?

                  I lived in poverty and didn’t have a car for several years. I couldn’t have afforded the five bucks for a taxi. I budgeted — no kidding — to the nickel.

                  It’s not as easy as that, unfortunately. This is not being snappy at you, but I don’t think people who haven’t lived in that situation truly understand.

                  And I don’t have children. I don’t know how single parents do it.

                • Verdant Pine Trees says:

                  As she points out, having public transportation doesn’t really help if the only places available to you do not have fresh food, just canned or in poor shape, etc. That’s what I meant by checking out a bodega. I used to do exactly what (she? sorry, not sure of your gender!) describes, hike to a grocery store and carry what I could back in a backpack. Not fun, and I was single and young, not with children, old, or disabled.

                  No, you’re right, it’s not like being disabled. But you implied that people were just lazy, not resourceful, not looking, etc. They have no idea where to start, is my point, and no idea that they are lacking in this knowledge. And to get that knowledge? How many cooking and home ec classes are available in the inner city, or even on college campuses?

                  Why do you think the book “A Man, A Can, A Plan,” was a bestseller? Why do you think “Don’t Eat That, Eat This” (paraphrasing title, possibly) was so popular?

                  I have a feeling that you were taught how to cook by someone, correct? or you felt a need to start investigating the subject yourself, and thus are annoyed that other people aren’t as logical. For many, many Americans (and Canadians, what the hell), and I count myself as once being in this number, the ignorance they have about food, nutrition, basic (not gourmet) cooking is staggering. They don’t even know how much they don’t know – i.e. why too much sodium is a bad thing, the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats, blah blah.

                  The choices you can make – and I can now make – that are very logical to us because of our knowledge are not even going to occur to many of these people. I don’t think we can get them to make logical choices by telling them that they’re blind, but by showing them how they are blind.

        • johnva says:

          There certainly are salt-free potato chips available.

        • ChuckECheese says:

          Thank you for this succinct reply explaining why people need convenient alternatives. It’s the life we live – single households with limited options for using fresh foods, limited cold storage, and limited time. I want a bag of veggies or a can of tomatoes that aren’t full of salt. Why is that so hard?

          • Limewater says:

            Green giant puts a lot of crap on their frozen vegetables, but you can usually find store-brand frozen vegetables that are cheaper and arejust the vegetables. I don’t see what’s hard about that.

        • Verdant Pine Trees says:

          A lot of people don’t know how to cook, either.

      • Alvis says:

        Even McDonalds nuggets only have 42% the USRDA of sodium in a 10-piece order.

        • dolemite says:

          Those are kinda small though. Ever seen the Chipotle chicken strips you can buy? Sure you would only eat 3-5 in a sitting (they are like 3x the size of a chicken nugget), but the sodium for one is through the roof.

      • perruptor says:

        That sodium is necessary to balance all the HFCS they put in the food.

    • elangomatt says:

      I wouldn’t lump all major retailers into the category of “Retailers want to carry the fewest number of high-selling items; they aren’t interested in selling niche items”. I think that is really more Walmart and Kmart’s idea. I know Walmart does that because when the local super walmart first opened they had some items that were unusual and I liked the variety. After a while though the variety has dwindled a lot once they learned what people would buy in this area. Other local major chain markets though still carry what I would think be low sales items, but they keep it in stock to maintain the good variety.

      • davidc says:

        Obviously you don’t understand how markets and economics in general work.

        A) Markets *charge* a manufacturer “shelf space” in their store (and more so for corner caps).

        B) Markets make the bulk of their profits are derived from Shelf Fees and Convenience Items.

        C) Most Health Alternatives must be priced below their unhealthy alternatives to attract the customer (outside of the “organic” label).

        D) Economies of scale predict that it’s cheaper to produce something in mass quantity, ergo the biggest brands are the cheapest to make, and ergo, tend to be more competitive.

        So, economically speaking, low volume, low profit, small manufacturer only get the “left over” shelf space the markets can’t sell to the Big Boys. The competition is varied and fierce for that space, especially considering getting your product on the shelf of a major super market can take your company from rags to riches (if the product is good).

        So if you want “healthy” food on the market shelfs, you got to drive down their costs. Hmm … can somebody say “more regulation is needed or we are all going to die”? Long Live the Nanny State!. (yea, I went there).

      • ChuckECheese says:

        I will lump “all major retailers” together in my comment. In Phoenix, which is a total freaking grocery extravaganza with nearly every major player present, the stores don’t have things like low-sodium chips, condiments, & canned foods. The frozen veggies section is getting smaller and smaller, being replaced with entrees, corn dogs, sausage/biscuit sandwiches and veggies in various salty sauces. I just can’t find what I want anymore. I must go to 3 or 4 stores to get what I want. It’s time and gas consuming. They’ve been lowering the sodium content of SpaghettiOs lately, and they taste better IMO.

    • grapedog says:

      I love the “under-30 Ayn Rand libertarians” quip. aside from it being total rubbish, it sounds clever to those who don’t know what you’re talking about.

      • The Porkchop Express says:

        and is probably going to bring on the exact thing the complaint is about!

      • ChuckECheese says:

        Stay tuned for my under-25 Marxian trustafarians comments, and my over-40 Abercrombie-wearing pedophiles quips!

    • shibblegritz says:

      Um, Chuck, EVERYTHING in sufficient quantities is toxic. One can die from water intoxication, for instance, by consuming too much water and interrupting proper cell function. Should we regulate the amount of water Americans may consume?

      • johnva says:

        No one is proposing regulating the amount of salt Americans may consume.

        • shibblegritz says:

          Not directly, not yet. But what’s that old line … “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

          First you hype the science. Then you set unnecessarily strict limits. Then you order food companies to limit the amount of salt they put in their food. Then you order restaurants to limit how much salt can be in food. Then you pass legislation forbidding salt be placed on restaurant tables or included in pre-prepared meal kits. Then you put a giant whopping tax on store-bought salt such that it’s prohibitively expensive for anyone but the wealthy to buy (and who cares about them, anyway?), and you claim the proceeds of the tax will be used to fund health care for the poor. And then you stand up, puff your chest out and talk about how much you’ve done for public health and how Americans are still “free” to eat salt.

          I know how the game is played, johnva.

    • GadgetsAlwaysFit says:

      I would like to politely disagree here. I don’t have to become a farmer because the grocery store sells frozen vegetables that have nothing in there but the vegetable. The grocery store also sells fresh meat and vegetables. They sell all the ingredients I need to make meals at home and I can control the sodium, fat, and sugar levels myself. I really disagree with the CDC’s sound bite opportunity they have taken here. I do not believe that 90% consume unhealthy amounts of salt. I sure hope I am not naive but I don’t think that 90% of the population is consuming vast quantities of foods like chicken nuggets and potato chips. My belief is based on anecdotal experience because the grocery store sure seems to have a lot of people with a lot of really great stuff in their carts and on the shelves. If they didn’t sell, they wouldn’t stock it. If I have misunderstood your point, my apologies.

  3. TheWillow says:

    what if we know we eat too much talk but we still have low blood pressure? Can we just ignore this?

  4. elangomatt says:

    Am I the only one that doesn’t believe that we are simply oversalting our food? I think the much of the sodium problem is thanks the amount of highly processed food that we eat. That includes much of fast food, boxed “convenience” foods, and all the junk food that we eat. Heck you can barely buy chicken at the grocery store any more that hasn’t been overly processed and says “may contain up to 20% sodium solution by weight”. What is the deal with that? I want chicken, not a brine solution that makes it jucier, I just don’t over cook it.

    • elangomatt says:

      Sorry, I skipped right over the sentance that said 77% of the salt we eat comes from processed foods. oops

    • dangermike says:

      Yeah, that first sentence in the article is poorly stated. I was going to post something similar. thanks for saving me the trouble, elangomatt.

  5. MercuryPDX says:

    True fact: Every day we’re alive is one less day we’re going to live.

  6. JennyMack says:

    We actually just sat down with one of our nutrition professors, Joan Salge Blake, here at Boston University and she did a great short presentation on sodium amounts in different foods: http://www.bu.edu/buniverse/view/?v=wxnzKEe Even for all the times my grandmother warned me about salt growing up, I’m still shocked to see it visualized. Joan definitely has gotten me to think twice about what I’m eating.

    • SideshowCrono says:

      Go Terriers!

      Seriously though, I would never normally paraphrase a TV personality but how I do love Alton Brown of Good Eats.

      Anyways, he basically went into a monologue on one of his episodes about how people just get too worked up about salt. Low salt diets aside, he basically argued that if you lived healthy in other ways (such as drinking plenty of water and excercising) then a high-salt diet is basically a non-issue.

      It always seemed to make sense as you’ll be shuttling salt out of your body on a regular basis (from sweat and from… you know the side effects of drinking lots of water). Sure it’s a lot to say “If you excercise it’s not a big deal…” but let’s just focus on getting people to excercise more and stop trying to save people from the peril’s of a sedentary lifestyle.

      • Hoss says:

        Really? I did not see this program but if Alton said that he’s putting people’s lives in danger! If we think a high blood pressure and heart attacks are all a person needs to think about, then we’re missing lots of other health issues caused or aggravated by high blood pressure. Take cardiomyopathy which may be silently present at any age. You have no symptoms and your doc may never know it’s there or find it too late. That person with high salt intake is basically lighting the fuse to early issues if not early death.

        I’m not a doc, but I’m shocked that anyone as bright as Alton would encourage people to ignore salt

        • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

          Salt causes only a fraction of high blood pressure issues, and that only in those with a predisposition. Banning salt, or limiting it to the extent that they’re attempting to do, is not unlike limiting barbells to a maximum of 20 pounds because some people can’t lift more than that and might hurt themselves.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          This is why SideshowCrono was paraphrasing Alton Brown, not directly quoting his words. That said, Alton Brown is a fierce proponent of healthiness as well as moderation. He’s also in to basic common sense. Don’t eat too much salt, but salt in and of itself is NOT evil. It is used in a variety of ways to spice up our foods and draw out flavor, or used to tenderize.

        • Fidget says:

          Well, he’s also advocating cooking most of your own food. And if you’re cooking your own food, odds are you really don’t need to worry about the salt content as much, because most of us would never think to put in salt in comparable amounts to processed/restaurant food when cooking at home. His methods also teach you when and how to modify for yourself, so you know when the salt is essential (bigger issue in baking than elsewhere, for me) and when it’s not.

      • Daniellethm says:

        I love Good Eats, such a good cooking show. Alton Brown is the Bill Nye of cooking, and I like his technique better than most other people on the food network. He explains WHY you do whatever you do to your food to get the desired result, not just how to do it.

        Back on topic, I don’t monitor salt in my diet, or fat, or anything else other than fast food (Which I only eat about once a month if I don’t have time to cook) Fresh fruits and veggies people, not just for meals, but for snacks. If I don’t buy junk food and if I need something to munch on I eat fruits or veggies.

        It sucked at first, but after a while you can modify your food cravings for junk into stuff that’s good for you, frozen, fresh, whatever. My mother was a terrible cook and we ate McDonalds more than once a week, so I had to teach myself (With the help of the Food Network) what I should be eating when my Big Mac cravings start.

        Exercise counts for a huge part of it too, some people can eat whatever they want and not gain a pound (My husband is one of these people *Jealousy*) I, on the other hand, have to maintain to stay at my current size (I’m 5’6″ about 120, I don’t own a scale, so it’s an estimate) I’m on a yoga kick at the moment, and as a lazy person, I don’t know why more people don’t give it a shot, you’d be surprised at how much work your body does just to hold a pose, and for the first time in years I can touch my toes!

    • Hoss says:

      Excellent work. Maybe for Part 2 she can encourage the value of learning to be a good cook so you can regulate intake of salt and avoid preservatives. The kinds of products in front of her are not necessary. Why buy frozen vegetables and flavored rice? If it’s because of a lack of time, make something wonderful on a rainy Sunday

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        You buy frozen vegetables so you can keep them in the freezer. Little too straightforward for you, Einstein?

        OK, here. I happen to be an excellent, even gourmet cook. I don’t buy all my vegetables frozen, but several (sliced peppers, brussels sprouts, greens, among others) are excellent that way if you’re going to serve them cooked anyway. Why not buy fresh? Well, I have a choice. I can buy three or four fresh vegetables and keep them in the refrigerator as long as possible while I rush, unsuccessfully, to use them up in the three days before they’re fit only for basic vegetable stock (I live alone). I can buy groceries according to a strict, inflexible menu plan that admits of no variation and no creativity. Or I can buy frozen vegetables that last for a couple months, and use them in the exact quantities and at the exact times when I need them.

      • Raanne says:

        Many time frozen vegetables are healthier than fresh because of the time lapse between when they are picked vs. when you eat them or they are frozen. Veggies are often frozen within hours of being picked, as opposed to the week or two they take to get to your store fresh, where they are losing nutrients that whole time.

        • Hoss says:

          That’s a good point My thought was a student could save some $$ and learn the basics by buying fresh

    • elangomatt says:

      I looked at a few of that professor’s videos and she looks like she’d be an interesting teacher. A kind of unusual teacher, but still a good teacher.

  7. Hank Scorpio says:

    “around 77% of it comes from processed foods and restaurant foods” – well, duh!

    And, I’m sure “restaurant foods” is basically a euphemism for “fast food”.

    My wife and I are not health nuts by any means, but shopping at Trader Joe’s and not eating fast food really is a great way to ensure not having to worry about stuff like this.

    • Anathema777 says:

      No, restaurant food applies to restaurants beyond fast food places. A lot of chain restaurants, like Denny’s, Chiles, Friday’s, and the like use an excessive amount of salt in their food.

      • Hank Scorpio says:

        Well, I sort of consider Denny’s, Chili’s and Friday’s to be about equivalent of fast food. When I think of real restaurants, I’m picturing local, non-chain restaurants.

    • Jevia says:

      I haven’t eaten fast food since I can’t remember when, but the other day I was with some friends for lunch who wanted to go to McDonalds. I figured, oh well, once can’t hurt. I was shocked at how much salt was on the fries. I felt like I had to poke through the salt to find the potatoes.

  8. mac-phisto says:

    people say food tastes bland w/o salt, but the truth is that salt makes everything bland. it affects our tastebuds so much that we can’t taste other flavors properly.

    i stopped eating most fast food & i rarely add salt to food i make at home (sometimes i’ll add a pinch here or there), but i know even i’m consuming too much salt. & there are a lot of foods that i can’t even eat anymore b/c they’re too damned salty.

    but i still love bacon. ;)

    • Oritonio says:

      In response to senses being numbed.. they can also be raised..

      I hate gatoraid… almost tasteless to me, but not to long after I stopped drinking soda and was really thirsty one day I grabbed a Gatorade to give it another try… the flavor was almost TOO intense to handle.

      So just like using to much of something can numb you to it… not having something for a while can make it intense later. Or make it so you need less of it to get the effect your after..

  9. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    We should stop eating processed foods and eat foods the way our ancestors did. Salted and/or preserved with salt. I, for one, would like to see the price of beef jerky go down as we eliminate preservatives and eat meat the healthier way.

    • denros says:

      I’m addicted to this locally made jerky with no preservatives from the refrigerator section at a local grocer. and at 9 bucks a pound, its cheaper than I can even make it (depending on what’s on sale that week).

      On a similar subject, there are some bison raised here but I wish it were more readily accessible. All the bison i’ve seen so far is grass fed, I think it’s a requirement… some of the tastiest, healthiest meat available. Elk is another excellent choice (though pricier)

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        You ever try making jerky with a box fan and some air filters? It’s f-in amazing, and I find myself trying to not eat it all.

    • Big Mama Pain says:

      Mmmmm, salt packed anchovies….those fuckers are so hard to find

    • ChuckECheese says:

      Of course they lived for only 40 years until their syphilitic legs disintegrated from underneath them.

    • shibblegritz says:

      Yeah, life was so much healthier “back then,” even though the average life expectancy has continued to climb, infant morality has declined and people are increasingly active into exceedingly old age. Yep, them old days where we sat around a campfire half naked and stinking getting eaten by bugs and gnawing on the intestines of the antelope we just clubbed to death after a four-hour hunt sure do sound appealing. Where do I sign up?

  10. chiieddy says:

    This is almost impossible to do unless you cut out processed foods. One of the reasons HFCS is in everything is to offset the high sodium content of foods where sodium is used as a preservative. They sweeten it so it doesn’t taste salty.

    • Jevia says:

      Wow, so double whammy there. Problem is, its not just “processed” foods. Even things like bread has more sodium and hfcs then any needs. I suppose one could just bake one’s own bread, though.

      • Limewater says:

        Check out Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat. It has a little sodium, but not much, and no HFCS.

  11. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    More of us were eating healthy amounts of salt before the recent define-down of the standards. Most of us are perfectly healthy eating amounts of salt far in excess of the ridiculous new benchmarks. Salt helps preserves many foods from being even unhealthier due to bacterial overgrowth. Low-sodium medical diets aside, it is impossible to make certain things in cooking happen without salt. Salt substitutes don’t do the same job.

    One more in the endless parade of scaredy-cat anti-pleasurists trying to dullify everyone else’s lives.

    • mac-phisto says:

      sorry, but i beg to differ. yes, salt has it’s place in the kitchen, but a big part of the problem is this:
      1) we buy food with salt as an additive.
      2) we cook that with other food & add salt as an ingredient.
      3) we salt the food again when it reaches our plate.

      2 of those 3 steps are unnecessary.

      it’s cool if you like your salt – i don’t really care. i’ve found that food is much more enjoyable without it though. it’s like ketchup – most people don’t use it to add flavor, they use it to mask flavor. before, i could eat virtually anything as long as it had salt. now, i can discern flavor & i’m more discriminating – if i don’t like the taste, i don’t eat it.

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        You find. I happen to be a supertaster and I disagree with you. But my point is not that you’re wrong, it’s that the drawing of a single line above which is “too much”, and then defining that semi-arbitrary line down further and further into ridiculousness is stupid. They’re doing it with sugar, too, and I don’t even eat sugar, myself. Come to think of it, why aren’t they going after aspartame, sucralose, and acesulfame with the same rigor and passion? It’s that those chemicals are “good” because they’re markers of a proper self-flagellating denial. The very micromanaging, zero-tolerance passion of the salt and sugar deniers is what shows this whole thing up as a religion, and people who like food as “sinners.”

        • mac-phisto says:

          i don’t think that’s the case at all. i think they’re aggressively attacking salt & sugar because of the incredibly high rates of heart disease & diabetes (which can be correlated to our intake of salt & sugar).

          there’s a separate school that attacks the use of alternatives (like saccharin, msg, aspartame, etc.) b/c their use may correlate to other problems (like cancer).

          i don’t think either should be passively dismissed as being wackos. there is loads of medical evidence to support that our salt & sugar intake is excessive & (some would say) not enough evidence to prove that substitutes are safe. we’re all grown-ups here, so we can all make our own decisions on what to put in our bodies, but that doesn’t change the fact that these ingredients are potentially unhealthy. don’t ignore it; if you don’t like it, just take it with a grain of salt. :P

  12. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Of course, if you’re going to redefine the intake level at 1500, what could be just 40% more than what you’re supposed to consume balloons up to a whopping 130% more. Sounds much scarier.

    Just like when they redefined hypertension from 140 to 120. Pure gaming to make everything an epidemic.

    You can have my salt when you pry it from my cold, dessicated hands.

  13. golddog says:

    Designer salt? Will that create uncontrolled anal leakage like the designer fat free oil they fry the chips in or just make my eyeballs bleed?

    I have a condition that makes me crave salt like crazy; I put extra sea salt on everything. So I’ve got a note from my doctor for the salt police. Ironically my blood serum levels of sodium and blood pressure are both low. I must have a gene sequence in the right place somewhere.

  14. Chmeeee says:

    I have yet to read a single one of these “the sky is falling” style articles about how we eat too much salt which actually explains why or even if salt is actually bad for the vast majority of us that don’t have blood pressure issues.

    • ARP says:

      Most credible studies have shown a spike in diabetes and heart attacks directly related to being overweight and taking in too much salt.

  15. Paladingo says:

    Sugar is also added to foods to hide the taste of salt, and fructose is bad for you in a completely different way (it’s processed into LDL, the “bad cholesterol”). A lot of foods have enormous amounts of salt in them that are unpalatable until you add sugar, then they’re just tasty (like sweet and sour pork).

    Soft drinks have huge amounts of sodium in them to — surprise — make you thirsty while you’re drinking them, so you have another.

  16. GuidedByLemons says:

    Don’t have high blood pressure, don’t care. Anyone else who has normal blood pressure should also absolutely not care. Consumerist’s notstop salt hysteria is extremely aggravating.

    • AnthonyC says:

      How old are you? Lifetime salt intake is what contributes to high blood pressure, not how muc you ate yesterday. If you turn 70 and get high blood pressure, guess what? That bacon you ate every day in your 20’s is contributing.

    • Chris Morran says:

      Yes, our “salt hysteria”… The last article written on the site that even mentions the word “sodium” is from May 25 — a full month ago. Wow, you really nailed us on that one.

      Congratulations on your normal blood pressure. In spite of your perfect ticker, heart disease still manages to kill almost 500,000 people a year in the U.S. alone. But since you’re not dying or dead, we won’t write about it.

      • GuidedByLemons says:

        Now that you mention it, it has been a few weeks. But there are 10 hits for sodium in April, and 6 in March. I’m still cooling down from THE SODIUM SKY IS FALLING overload, apparently. I overreacted to this particular story.

        When Consumerist presents food as unhealthy, very frequently you say “look how much sodium it has!” with the implication that sodium is bad and everybody should avoid eating whatever thing we’re talking about because it has so much sodium in it. And you know what? Most people really should not care. Sodium is not bad for you if you don’t have a tendency toward hypertension.

        • Chris Morran says:

          we post anywhere from 24-40 posts each weekday, with another 6-8 posts/day on the weekend. That’s about 700 stories each month. 10 stories out of 700 that happen to mention the word “sodium” = 1.4% of stories.

          And when we do mention that a food has a ridiculous amount of sodium it’s something like the PF Chang’s dish that had something like 7000 mg of sodium, which no one on Earth — maybe Lot’s wife — would disagree is too much salt. When we run sodium as part of nutrition info, that’s because it’s a standard item to include in nutritional info.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        What about posts that contain the word “salt”?

    • ShadowFalls says:

      You should. Too much sodium can make you dehydrate, thus can lower your blood pressure and increase your pulse rate. Your body will attempt to compensate and thus steadily increases your blood pressure over time while overworking your heart. Sure it won’t kill you a week, month or a year. But, eventually it will catch up to you, so one should be more caring.

      Sodium contents in food tends to just be unnecessarily too high. They can easily reduce it with little to no difference. Frozen foods are the biggest culprits of all. We overuse salt as a taste factor, but many foods never really needed it to begin with. It has been best used historically as a preservative, but nowadays people are using it like some kind of marinade. By the way, best potato chips I ever have had, have no salt on them.

      • GuidedByLemons says:

        I make it a point to stay well hydrated by constantly drinking water, and my resting heart rate is under 50bpm. Believe me, I look out for my health ;-)

  17. bruce9432 says:

    Sea water is 3.5% salt. Therefore you would have to only swallow 100 grams of water (4 ounces) to exceed the standard of 3500 miligrams. I know people that surf everyday of their life and they tell me they swallow a lot more seawater than four onces. I guess the government should make surfing illegal.

  18. shibblegritz says:

    I find it hugely ironic that liberals want to outlaw salt but legalize drugs.

  19. LSAX says:

    I agree that processed foods have an unnecessary amount of salt, and I would love to see less put into food simply because I don’t like the insane thirst I feel whenever I eat out. However, it’s important to realize that salt is only unhealthy if you have high blood pressure or are at risk of developing high blood pressure. If you’re on the other end of the spectrum, like me, feel free to give the saltmongers the bird.

  20. Groanan says:

    If people really cared about salt they would buy unsalted products, like my father who buys unsalted butter and then adds a salt substitute to his food.

    The fact that most things come loaded with salt is a testament to our desire for the taste and our collective lack of concern.

    If the Government really wants to do something, because they want to look concerned, they should put out educational pamphlets, maybe a salt smear campaign. I think they are already doing this with their health guidelines.

  21. Slave For Turtles says:

    All the hysteria about sodium in America! After eating genuine Japanese food, I have to wonder if they have more sodium than we do because so much of their food makes me gag because it’s so salty. How do their hypertension rates compare to ours? And is it possible to account for their legendary stress levels in that rate?

    I have no answers, only musings.

  22. FDCPAGuy says:

    High fructose corn syrup is used because it’s cheap but it’s overly sweet, salt is then used to tone down the sweetness. Look at soda: caffeine (a diuretic), HFCS, salt. So you’ve got something which makes your body discard water and makes you ultimately more thirsty.

  23. Ixnayer says:

    I love salt and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

  24. EyeintheLAsky says:

    Jeebus –

    even I knew this…back in the early 70’s…when i wasn’t even a teen!

    Isn’t anyone required to take a damn nutrition class anymore?

    This is OLD news that every citizen should know already.

  25. legolex says:

    I love low sodium chips, I wish they would start making low sodium pretzel rods/sticks etc.

  26. cephalo786 says:

    It has been proven very beneficial for certain groups, such as individuals with high blood pressure or kidney disease to consume a low salt diet. The benefits of controlling sodium for those with normal blood pressure is still unclear. Nutrition research is always cluttered by the fact that you can’t have a long-tern experimental group; data is generally observational and those who tend to consume a low-salt diet also probably consume a diet low in processed foods and probably exercise more frequently. Research also appears to indicate that some individuals are far more sensitive to sodium than are other individuals, and thus reducing sodium would be beneficial for them as well.

    Historically, we are consuming far less salt now than in the past, when salt and pickling were some of the only methods of food preservation available. Asian countries have higher salt diets (mostly from pickling and sauces) than western countries, but have lower rates of heart disease and hypertension. However, they also have much higher rates of stomach cancer.

  27. Aesteval says:

    If 90% of the population ingests “too much” salt, but 90% of the population does not have abnormal sodium levels in their blood plasma, can you really say that 90% of the population are really ingesting too much salt?

    • shibblegritz says:

      Yes, because the government knows better than you and your doctor what’s good for you.

      Shut up and do what they tell you already.

  28. Altimerist says:

    Ive been watching my salt intake lately.

    Its absurd how much salt is in food.

    Just about everything has nearly 10% of your daily intake. And I mean everything. A serving of this, a serving of that. Before you know it, youre barely starting lunch, and already eaten your sodium recommendations.

    And its not that I eat lots of salty shit, like chips and what not. I mean, even a salad – a serving of dressing is nearly 10%. Eat a sandwich? A serving of ham, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, and dont forget the pickles – again, each is nearly 10% of your daily intake, so about 50% or more of your intake just from a sandwich. Its insane!

  29. Oritonio says:

    It’s my Choice to eat as much or as little Salt as i prefer.

    And I prefer to keep a rounded diet… that means what ever I want it to mean.

    But i do not buy product super high in sodium. So it might mena i purchase a larger array of product if everyone start cutting back…

    On the flip side I enjoy my Ramen noodles SO much i add extra MSG.. mmmm Buttery goodness!