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Salt’s Not the Bad Guy

June 23, 2011

Just to make it graphic for you (and me), experts say that the people should consume no more than teaspoon a day of salt.

Here’s an example of what it would take to fulfill your entire suggested daily intake–without any other salt added to what you’re eating

  • 1 pickle, 1 can tuna + 1 tbsp soya sauce
  • 1 bowl Rice Krispies cereal + 1 slice fat free cheese + 1/2 cup Campbell’s tomato soup

Of course anyone can say that a splash of lemon or some fresh herbs can spice up a dish just as well as salt…but we know that’s not the truth. Salt makes things taste better. That’s the conclusion one Washington Post Food reporter came to when he tried to go without salt when eating out–and dove into a blood orange tuna carpaccio only to find:

I was impressed with the bursts of acid and sweetness that punctuated the fresh, clean fattiness of the fish.

And I had one unshakable thought: This would taste a lot better with some salt.

But it’s also not the whole truth that salt is the bad guy in our health crises.

The experts (at least the ones I trust) seem to agree. The problem with salt has less to do with what comes out of your own saltshaker or even what chefs use to enhance the flavours of what they cook.

It’s the salt in processed food that’s making people sick (dummy). As Mark Bittman said in a recent video interview

To the extent there is a problem with salt, it’s the salt in processed foods.  People who don’t eat a lot of processed foods don’t have problems with salt.  People who add their own salt to food have no problems with salt.  Chefs who make their own – chefs in restaurants who cook from scratch and add salt to their taste or to the perceive tastes of their diners are not adding criminal amounts of salt.

If you circle back to examples above, all of these foods come in a package.

We can’t rely on government or industry to regulate the amount of salt in processed food. After all, Health Canada quietly disbanded the Sodium Working Group, a panel that was charged with reducing salt levels in processed foods back in February so processed food isn’t going to change anytime soon.

Haven’t you read any good self help books lately? Then you must know, you can’t expect others to change for you. You need to change yourself.  So, it’s time to say goodbye to high salt processed foods.

comments

  • I’m on a medically required low salt diet. Instead of a teaspoon a day I need to keep it to half a teaspoon.

    At first, it was hard to eat anything with minimal or no salt. And then a funny thing happened: I got used to it.

    It’s amazing how good food can taste without a ton of added salt. Then again, I’m more motivated to buy quality fresh food because I know that the taste is going to be entirely because of this quality. I have developed a repertoire of herbs and spices that can add a lot of flavour with no sodium. I’ve also discovered the magic that onion and garlic can do to a dish cooked without salt.

    It’s not that food tastes any less delicious or is worse without the salt. It’s that we’re so used to it that we expect that saltiness to be there and are disappointed when it’s not. It’s something we can train ourselves out of… and staying below that one teaspoon a day can leave us with a great deal more time to enjoy it.

     
    • Jodi Lastman

      Thanks Dana. Your point about quality is very important. Better food tastes best on its own.

       

The independents: Vincenzo's

Vincenzo's is a Kitchener Waterloo icon and has been a family affair since 1967. The store is acclaimed for its sandwiches, Mediterranean and local foods, and we catch up with co-owner Carmine to hear more about his outlook on the store, food and cooking.

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