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What do you think of Walmart's plan to reduce sodium in their foods?
I agree with you that Walmart's involvement in creating healthier products and bringing them to market could have a powerful effect on the health of America. There's clear evidence that when people are given the choice of a "healthy" meal vs. a "traditional" one, they will most often say that the healthy version tastes better. That is, when they don't know which is which.

Does washing canned beans remove some of the salt?
Most canned beans and vegetables do contain a lot of added salt. There is usually about 400 - 500 mg sodium in a half cup of canned beans.

Does sea salt have less sodium in it than regular salt?
Ordinary salt is sodium chloride and is made of one molecule sodium and one molecule chloride. The crystals of the sodium chloride that form can be of any size. Think of a grain of salt from the familiar round blue box of Morton salt in your cupboard vs. a large salt lick placed out in the field for horses. Sea salt is usually a coarser salt than your friendly Morton salt.


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AMA calls for reduced sodium

As you may have seen reported on the news and in newspapers, the American Medical Association has called for a minimum of 50% reduction in the amount of sodium (salt) in processed foods, fast foods, and restaurant meals, along with other measures to reduce the amount of sodium in America's diet.

Too much sodium in your diet can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. About 65 million Americans already have high blood pressure, which is affected not only by salt intake, but also lack of exercise, obesity, and alcohol consumption.

What can you do to minimize your salt intake?

Read nutrition labels. The maximum daily allowance, according to the US Dietary Guidelines, is under 2300 milligrams for those under the age of 50. That's about a teaspoon of salt a day.

Minimize processed foods and fast foods. The best way to control your salt intake is to cook your own food. All the recipes on are labeled as to whether they'll fit into a low-sodium diet. Here's an index to low-sodium recipes.

Never add salt to your food until after you've tasted it. I've written about the way your taste buds learn to perceive saltiness in Do Your Taste Buds Learn?, and it's clear that your perception of the saltiness of food is dependent on how much salt you're used to eating.

First posted: June 30, 2006