Sunday, February 17, 2013

Low Salt; No Salt; Restricted Diet, Oh, My!

If you are not already a label-reader in the grocery store, being put on a salt-restricted diet will make one out of you in a big hurry!
It is shocking just how much salt is in the foods we all eat on a daily basis, without even thinking about it.  Since hubby has been put on a (preferably NO salt) diet, but a limit of not over 1500 mg per day, I challenge you to try and meet that using regular grocery store offerings.
It is damned near impossible for several reasons.  First, anything that comes in a can or box has far more sodium than is healthy for anyone, especially when you add up all the sources consumed in a normal day.
As an example, a single slice of bread contains between 170 and 250 mg of sodium; and I don't know anyone outside of a toddler that would be satisfied with a single-slice sandwich.  Therefore, the salt dosage must be doubled.  We are now at 340 mg, assuming the lower-salt bread.  Now, for the condiments: most people use both mayonnaise and mustard on a cheese or lunch meat sandwich.  The mayo comes in at 85 mg per tablespoon; the mustard at 60 mg per teaspoon.  Now, a teaspoon is not enough to spread and fully cover the slice of bread, so again, we must double the count.  So, 85 + 120 = 205 mg for condiments, and we haven't even gotten to the main filling.  Now, we have found a lower-sodium brand of lunch meat for him, called "Healthy Ones."  There is a Black Forest ham, rated at 360 mg for 6 slices.  The slices, mind you, are paper-thin. So, each slice is 60 mg.  But, a single slice or two doesn't make much of a sandwich for a good-sized man.  The same brand of oven-roasted turkey breast (even thinner slices!) come in at 180 mg per 6-slice "serving!"  That's 30 mg per slice.  So, the man wants 2 slices of each kind of lunch meat on his sandwich.  Not unreasonable, considering the thinness of the cuts, and the fact that 4 slices comes in under the rated 'serving' amount.  A slice of cheese is also desired.  That's the cheap, thin-sliced processed cheese that comes in individually wrapped slices.  (It's all we can afford.)  Hold onto your hat!  That stuff tips the sodium scale at about 150 mg. per slice!  
Let's add it up, then, shall we?

  1. 2 slices of bread                                              340 mg
  2. 4 slices of paper-thin lunch meat, total          180 mg
  3. 1 Tbsp. mayo                                                      85 mg
  4. 2 tsp. mustard                                                   120 mg
  5. 1 slice cheese                                                   150 mg
  6. Total for one sandwich:                                     875 mg
Out of a daily allowance of just 1500 mg of sodium, that single sandwich occupies nearly 3/4 of that total.  New problem at this point:  a big man of 6 feet tall with a muscular build at a bit over 200 pounds is not going to be satisfied by a single sandwich.  Uh-oh!  Double that 875 for 2 sandwiches, and you are at 1750 mg of sodium, or 250 mg above the daily allowance, and that's just a single meal!

Oh, I can hear folks saying, "Well, just don't eat this/that the other." Or, "Make your own bread, etc."  Yes.  I know.  I tried that.  It used to be that doing things yourself was less expensive, let alone healthier.  That is no longer true, however.  I tried it.  The sodium count in a jar of commercial spaghetti sauce is pretty high.  The cheaper varieties (within our budget) are even higher in the salt department.  So, I thought I would become Mrs. Homemaker, and create my own, homemade, very healthy, salt-free spaghetti sauce, starting with making my own tomato sauce.

Nice idea--but it didn't pan out so well.  I can buy a can measuring a little over a pint of the commercial stuff for between 98 cents for the cheapest and $3.98 for the fancy branded stuff.  So, I bought tomatoes (4 pounds), onions, garlic, and came home to begin my adventure.  I slaved over the stove literally most of the day, and ended up with approximately the same amount as a single commercial jar of sauce.  It was delicious, but:  the cost?  Six dollars and change!  Over double the cost of the fancy-branded sauces!  What is wrong with this picture?  

Canned soup is one of the worst offenders, with a single can offering up anywhere from 480 mg of sodium (that's for the so-called "heart-healthy" varieties) per serving, all the way up to over 1200 mg!  Oh, and yes, there are some few products made with no salt.  The issue with those is, they are over double the cost for a much smaller container! Why should we be charged more money for something left out?!

The problem with salt is, it makes you retain water.  That's bad enough, but know this:  retaining water makes your heart work harder, and also your lungs.  If you eat too much salt on a regular basis, you will develop health problems later on.  The effects are cumulative.

  Back in the old days, salt was used as a preservative, but with modern cooking, canning and freezing methods, that is no longer true, and those copious amounts of salt are not needed anymore.  While some salt is needed in the body, it is certainly not needed in these prodigious quantities.  It is nearly impossible to escape; it's in everything!  But, don't rely on my word--go look in your cupboards, and prepare to be shocked.

A serious and massive letter-writing campaign to the big agri-business food conglomerates, as well as to government food regulating agencies.  needs to be started.  WHY are they virtually poisoning us with all of this salt?