Sara Lee Corporation announced late last week that it plans a sodium reduction in many of its products over the course of the next five years. The reduction is in “key categories” of fresh bread, hot dogs, lunchmeat, breakfast foods and cooked sausage. Brands included in the initiative are Jimmy Dean, Ball Park, Hillshire Farm, and Sara Lee.
What you need to know:
This is good news. Sort of.
It would have been better if the reduction would become effective immediately and not planned for such a long term. Right now the press release is more about marketing than nutrition. Sara Lee would gain much more credibility if it announced the reductions as they were being executed, not in advance.
We Americans are consuming way too much salt in our diet.While the daily maximum is 2300 mg of sodium (5 grams of salt, the equivalent of a teaspoon) the average consumption is over 3,500 mg. Excess salt intake results in high blood pressure, hypertension and additional health risks.
over 70% of the salt we consume comes from processed foods. In many cases, the sodium comes in surprising places. Bread products, Cereals, and even sweet snacks contain high levels of salt.
Take Sara Lee’s Plain Bagel. It contains 590 mg of sodium – more than 25% of the recommended daily maximum. And this is before the lox, eggs, or cheeses!
What to do at the supermarket:
We could all do with less sodium. Look at products’ nutrition facts panel where sodium content is mandated both in milligrams and percent of daily value. Grains will always contain some levels of salt but choose those with lower numbers. Many manufacturers are reformulating their products to reduce sodium levels, so it makes sense to compare similar products and choose the one with the lowest count.
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