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The Wall Street Journal reports that in all the excitement about cutting carbohydrates, calories and fat, the importance of reducing the amount of salt in the American diet. Salt, according to experts, raises the blood pressure, which can be a risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.

“For consumers, it can be difficult to tell how much sodium is in a product just by tasting it, because salt content can be high in foods that don't taste salty at all, such as bread, cereal, canned tuna and cheese,” the WSJ writes. “Now, a new study to be released today shows wide variations in the salt content in different brands of similar products. For instance, a small order of French fries at Burger King has almost three times the sodium as the same order as McDonald's (410 mg versus 140 mg per serving).

“The findings should come as a surprise to many people, who, when trying to reduce their sodium intake, focus on cutting down certain kinds of food, like canned soup or pickles. They don't realize that wide disparities can show up in foods that are otherwise comparable.”

According to the Journal, the sometimes controversial Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is trying to change consumer awareness about salt-related nutrition issues, doing a study (confirmed and expanded upon by the WSJ) revealing that three quarters of the salt consumed by Americans comes from packaged food and meals consumed in fast food restaurants; about 11 percent of the nation’s salt intake is from salt added at the table. And, the research suggests that over the past decade, sodium content in the nation’s most popular foods actually is up – in part because salt is so effective at extending the life of packaged foods.
KC's View:
Speaking as a consumer, this is somewhat disturbing, because we go out of our way not to add salt to food when we cook it or eat it. So to find out that we may well be eating too much salt regardless of our efforts is annoying.

Guess it just means we’ll have to start reading labels more carefully.

What’s interesting is that the WSJ indicates that some manufacturers think that customers don’t want a lot of labeling that emphasizes reduced sodium. With all due respect to what is probably a lot of consumer research, we think they’re wrong – and that customers will both want and use this information.