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Getting Rid of Salt

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Breaking News!

The FDA is considering removing salt (sodium chloride) from the "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) food list. Salt intake brings new levels of alarm - USATODAY.com explains where excess sodium is found and how to reduce sodium.

Personally, I'd love to see the amount of sodium reduced or even eliminated in many of the processed and commercial foods found in the supermarket today. While I don't buy many supermarket items, the ones that I do purchase such as canned soups, beans, and canned tomatoes, are generally too salty for my taste, and are high in sodium. I've found products that work for me, and always look for low sodium items.

What's your thought on this news?

post #2 of 22
I agree. I've also read that many companies, fearing legislation or rules from the FDA have started reducing sodium levels and customers haven't even noticed. Food simply doesn't need that much salt to taste good.

For some foods, there are preservative effects to consider such as salt cod. But you often wash the excess sodium away in preparation. Even dried chipped beef instructs you to rinse it both to plump the meat and to cut the sodium to proper eating levels.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #3 of 22
I believe the government should stay out of it. Manufacturers frequently offer low-salt varieties, and I hate to think what they are using as a substitute. If anyone is truly concerned, buy only low salt items, stop buying processed foods high in salt content, restrict the use of salt in home cooking. Do you think its time we took responsibility for what/how we eat, I do. I do wish that companies would use restraint when adding any chemicals to processed food, perhaps they need to capitalize on their processing and advertise accordingly. If something isn't healthy for me, whose fault is it if I choose to eat it? Sorry for the rant.
post #4 of 22
I agree with bubbamom. While proccessed foods might be way too high in sodium I really hate to see the government get involved in yet another aspect of our lives. They really need to butt out, IMO.
post #5 of 22
I'll be a third to Bubbamom's argument. The government is implying that we don't know what's good for us and can't make informed decisions as consumers. There are always going to be "hazardous" food items, have you ever looked at the back of TV dinners? One I found had something like 800 calories and you know what I did? Put it back because I don't need uncle Sam to play mom and keep me from eating it. Don't even get me started on people who want to have Mcdonalds erradicated because those with lack of judgment are facing health issues.
post #6 of 22
Lots of reduced sodium offerings are starting to make their way to the market right now. Food companies have been at this for a few years now. Product development takes time. It's not unusual for a product to take 3-4 years from concept to grocery store shelf.
post #7 of 22
I'm all for more lower-salt options. But who doesn't know already that less sodium is usually better?
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
The way I read the article, the govt is thinking, not of regulating the amount of salt in foods, but of taking salt of the GRAS list. Yes, it's certainly true that many companies offer lower sodium options for some of their food, and some may even offer salt-free options. However, many consumers are unaware of this, and not all stores carrythe low/no salt versions of some products.

I'm not for govt regulation, but I am 100% in favor of heightened consumer awareness of the problems associated with high sodium diets, and greater awarenes of the low sodium/no sodium options available to them

One canned soup I buy only has a few low sodium versions of their soup line - not even 1/3 of the line is available as low sodium. And the low sodium version still offers a substantial percentage of the MDR of sodium.

While I applaud any company that produces a low sodium product, I believe that the sodium content could be even lower in many instances.

And let's not forget the excessive amounts of sugar that's found in our food. That's another major contributor to the general unhealthiness of the US population

post #9 of 22
Sugar is probably more of a health threat than the salt/sodium. A generally healthy individuals kidneys will easily eliminate excess sodium. Even with some renal impairment, sodium is kept at fairly consistent safe levels in the body. Excess sugar is nothing more than empty calories, generally in excess, and the human body is very efficient at storing those excess calories.

If the FDA wants to remove something from the GRAS list, it should be sugar.

I understand the folks who say the gov't should stay out of such issues, but consider just how much gov't money is spent on dealing with the diseases caused by excessive consumption of sugar, salt/sodium, alcohol, and tobacco. The American taxpayer is pretty much footing the lions share of the bill.
post #10 of 22
I think it's SO important for people to educate themselves on nutrition. People should know that a Big Mac can be enjoyed without guilt or legislation, as long as it's just a once-in-a-while thing.

I think of France's food culture--there is hardly a nutrition police, but their culture and their traditions encourage healthy habits more so than here in the USA. They hardly touch foods that don't have at least some fresh ingredients. They think of rich food as an indulgence and not an everyday thing. Their system isn't perfect, but I wish we had a lot more of that kind of thinking here--a built-in health-conscious culture that people don't even realize they're doing.

Yes, these are generalizations and I will probably be corrected on some points, but my main point is I agree that awareness will have more effect than anything else.
post #11 of 22
Some thoughts:

In the U.S., it's not so much sugar as high-fructose corn syrup. In fact, corn syrup as a substitute for sugar is an enormous problem. Too much sugar ain't good, but too much HFCS is heap plenty worse.

Another factor is the general popularity of the chain fast food places, and the increasing tendency to "supersize." There are some interesting physiological reasons we crave larger portions some of which stem from additives and carb/protein/fat balances in those fast food meals. They somehow manage to hit the perfect level to leave you unsatisfied after eating a meal full of salt and fats.

Those balances, the sugars in corn syrup etc., don't trigger the part of our brain that says, "full -- stop." Instead our brain tells us we need more food -- so eat we do.

Another look out are the non-nutritive sugar sweeteners in "diet" desserts. They also trigger larger portions -- partly by leaving us unsatisfied.

But look at food prices -- especially over the last few months. It's cheaper to go to Jack in the Box or KFC than it is to cook yourself. It's no surprise the poor and the working poor wreck their health on that junk when you consider how difficult and unattractive the alternatives are.
As if it's not bad enough for the effect on fuel prices -- government corn policy has a lot to do with our overuse of HFCS. It's so much cheaper than sugar because it's subsidized and because we keep sugar -- which historically has been an inexpensive crop in our hemisphere -- out. So, on the one hand we have the government trying to help and on the other ...

As far as I know, there aren't many "food" products the government has actually regulated that weren't actually fatal in the short run. Actually, I wish the government was more proactive with food, rather than less. Take animal inspection for instance. I don't mind them being wrong, I don't even mind them being a little too obtrusive now and then. I do mind them not acting because industries which can afford to buy lobbyists can afford to buy legislators and legislation too.

Last I heard, for most people, dietary salt was not much of a factor in hypertension; but the science may have changed again.

My experience is that cooking with more natural ingredients, for treats especially, like lard instead of Crisco, piloncillo instead of brown sugar, butter instead of margarine, homemade desserts with sugar instead of processed foods with HFCS, sodas from Mexico with sugar instead of sodas from the US with HFCS, etc., etc., that there's less of a tendency to overeat -- and more of a tendency to eat healthier in general.

post #12 of 22
Yeah that's tragic to me, eating junk food to save money. Home cooking doesn't even have the economic benefit as much as it did before.
post #13 of 22
I agree, but knowing what goes into my food makes me cook at home more often. I mean seriously, have you seen the nutritious facts of restaurant food?

On the salt subject, it's the peoples' choices on what they eat and what they buy and the government should stay out of it. There are plenty of alternatives that people can buy, but some of us just want real salt! What are the salt alternatives that companies will start using? And are they really healthier than good ol' salt?
It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
It's a wonderful thing to be spoiled in the way of food.
post #14 of 22
Only the US would consider a food substitute safer than the food itself.
post #15 of 22
I'm a salt freak myself. I just love the stuff.

How many people died from sodium OD's before refrigeration was invented?
post #16 of 22
BDL and CatMan I concur - many of us had grandmothers/fathers who lived to ripe old ages, with none of the restrictions that modern culture/regulations would have us be restricted by. How many grandparents are living to the same age 2 generations down the track?

I've sat down to many a dinner with much older people, and they will be heaping salt on their food. They are still alive and kicking. They have their roasts cooked in lard every Sunday. Am not sure how this works in with the current theories on healthy eating - not at all I'd guess, but there it is.

Probably the less refined and the fewer chemicals involved, the better.

I like to cook from scratch wherever I can. That way I can control what goes into our meals. Just find it more reassuring and less of a worry - it takes more time, sometimes, but by heck, it tastes better too.

As an aside, I love the smell of the Colonels chicken, don't like the taste much, but am sick for 3 days after. The McD is the same, Burger King burgers are fine, smell and taste and no side effects. Except for the shakes :( They smell like grease, here.
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

post #17 of 22
right on, free rider.
if you want to consider salt unsafe, but you sell diet cokes and other drinks with artificial sweeteners to CHILDREN there is something very radically wrong in the society. Salt has been around forever - artificial sweeteners are a recent invention - we have no idea of the effects of eating them in the long run.
remember when butter was considered unhealthy and margarine was proposed as the "healthy" alternative?? a little perspective would certainly help.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
post #18 of 22
I stopped using salt back in 2000, food taste so much better without it, the sodium amount is one of the things I check when buying anything..I prefer to make my own food, from scratch using herbs for flavor. I would love for the snack food companies to make potato chips w/o salt..haven't eaten one in years..same goes for pretzels..it is a choice I made..not because it was a health issue, but do feel better for it, same goes for sugar content..
post #19 of 22
I don't consider salt a natural food, but I also like it with many foods.

IMO what it is, is a great flavor enhancer for some things, in small amounts, much less than the average person consumes. I think there's nothing wrong with it, except when overdone. And I think it's usually way overdone.

A little bit is great with many things. I wish it were kept to just "a little bit".
post #20 of 22
It's technically a mineral, not a food at all.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #21 of 22
Thread Starter 
I pretty much agree with you, although I generally don't find salt to be much of a flavor enhancer in many food products. It seems to mask or dull flavors for mer. Mostly I don't salt my food, especially vegetables, much preferring the natural flavors of the food to shine through. In many commercial foods - canned tomatoes and some soups come quickly to mind - the low salt and salt free verrsions really do it for me.

post #22 of 22
BDL- I think you know this may be defensible on a single-serving basis, but you also know that the formula of knowledge + proper shopping + planning will knock this down for the typical family-of-four. Even buying the very cheapest items at the McD's near my home, feeding 4 people is a $12-$15 operation. One can do a LOT better healthwise at a grocery store.
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