In our society today, we are constantly hearing about the dangers of “added sugars.” While this is a very real problem that needs to be addressed, more people need to be aware of another hidden danger lurking in all of their supposedly healthy foods. It’s salt.
There’s not a table in America without a shaker within quick reach. A lot of people find out that salt is contributing to their blood pressure problems, so they try to cut back. How do they do it? Well, stop dousing everything they eat in salt. Simple solution, right? Not at all, in reality. People are coaxed by doctors to cut back on their salt, but many don’t realize how much salt is already added to the foods that they regularly consume before they ever think about pelting it with some more at the dinner table. And this built-in sodium may be way more dangerous than an extra sprinkle you like to add to your French fries.
Let’s start by saying that there are some foods that we all know contain gratuitous amounts of salt. When you open up a bag of normal potato chips, you know you are probably consuming more salt than you should. Same goes for pretzels. Cheese Puffs. But wait! You want to be good, so you decide to eat more vegetables. Vegetables are good for you, right?
Absolutely they are. There is not a natural vegetable or fruit on this Earth that is not bursting with nutritional value, vitamins, minerals, and those things we are always hearing about in the news, antioxidants. But from a very young age, it seems that we are being conditioned to think that vegetables must taste a certain way. We think they must have salt.How can they make products like this if salt is necessary?
Turn those cans over. Del Monte. Libby. Green Giant. The vegetables inside pack a nutritious punch, but they pelt them with salt to the point that eating a can of green beans can almost be a negative. Meaning that the health benefits are outweighed by the risks. Many canned vegetables can pack as much as 25% of a normal daily allowance of salt in one serving. And we all know that food companies are not always real good about making the servings realistic. Eating a whole can of Green Giant green beans will come out great on fat, calories, and virtually any other statistic you can look at except salt. And a lot of people quickly throw up their arms and say, “Well, they have to preserve them.” Well, that’s simply not true. At this stage, every major manufacturer has reduced-sodium or no salt added versions of their products. How come these canned goods have just as much shelf life without all that salt? Yes, salt is a preservative, and in the time before electricity and refrigerators was critical to preserving food, but in our time, it is just not necessary. The problem is that food manufacturers know that we as a society have a “salt tooth.” We are born and bred thinking that everything needs salt. Many of us don’t even know what a green bean or corn kernel really tastes like because we only have experienced it pelted in salt.
So, read those labels. Be diligent. Even the healthiest thing you can think of might have hidden revelations around the label. Watch that salt and learn how to enjoy fruits and vegetables as God intended them, and not with all those added preservatives. And, always try to cook fresh if you can. There’s nothing wrong with taking on some NSA veggies in a can in a pinch, but fresh is always better, and you can even add a little salt and not come anywhere near what these manufacturers are adding for you.
For great heart-healthy recipes and more articles like this one, check out Common Sense Cuisine — Bringing the Common Sense Back to Cooking One Heart-Healthy Meal at a Time!