Cheerios, But Less Salty

Most people wouldn’t think of  Cheerios as a salt filled food. They sure don’t taste salty. But a single serving contains 190mg of sodium. That’s almost 10% of the daily maximum allowance and MORE than a serving of Doritos!

That’s why we were happy to read that General Mills is announcing an acceleration of sodium reduction plans. The reduction will  be across the product portfolio, spanning brands such as Cheerios, Häagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso, Progresso, and Cascadian Farm. In a press release earlier this week, Susan Crockett, Ph. D, vice president, Health and Nutrition said

“General Mills is committed to reducing sodium levels in a series of small steps across our portfolio. We believe making changes in a series of smaller steps is the right way to continue to deliver great taste while reducing sodium.”

The gradual effort will span the next 5 years and reduce the salt by 20% across product lines. Slashing a large amount at once may cause consumer backlash, so the baby step approach makes sense.

It’s no small challenge to remove sodium from processed food. besides the flavor loss, salt has additional roles – from preservative to binding agent to dough improver.

Unfortunately though, we are consuming twice the daily amount of salt we should be, and this leads to a host of health problems, most notably high blood pressure.

Over 70% of our salt intake is from processed foods, the rest is from home cooking or salt shakers. So if all manufacturers reduce their products’ salt levels, it can have a substantial impact on a national level.

Here at Fooducate, we mostly bash companies for their subpar products and misleading marketing tactics, but kudos to General Mills on this. Hopefully they will announce the removal and reduction of other cheap and unhealthy ingredients such as artificial food colorings, especially in products marketed to kids.

General Mill’s announcement comes a week ahead of The Institute of Medicine’s long awaited study,  Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States, to be released next week at a public briefing in Washington, DC. [Hat tip to Marion Nestle]

What to do at the supermarket:

Salt is found in the least expected places including breakfast cereals, ice cream, cookies, and breads. You really need to keep a watch out for levels higher than 100mg in such products, and for canned soups and frozen meals, values should be lower than 600mg if not 450mg.

  • Snack-Girl

    This stuff passed my healthy cereal test – even with the sodium is it a cut above the others?

  • Heidi

    good, im glad they are reducing sodium becuase think of all the babies who eat cheerios as one of their first real finger foods.. my son does

  • Editorial Staff

    @Snack-Girl it is one of the better cereals for kids because of its low sugar content. Still the sodium count is high at 190mg. Apple Jacks has 135mg, Post Select Cranberry Almond Crunch has only 115mg.

  • bill

    But who just eats a single serving of Doritos?

  • Dr. Susan Rubin

    Ditch ALL the boxed cold cereals! They are all a complete rip off financially and nutritionally. Eat real food for b’fast.
    Eggs, whole grain porridge, yogurt and homemade granola.

    You can stop worrying about macro and micro nutrients when you start eating real food!

  • kc

    It sounds like a positive move to reduce the sodium, but when can we expect them to remove the GMO corn? All those macro and micro nutrients people believe they are getting from “fortified” cereals are put there via GMO corn. Babies’ first finger food isn’t even food……

  • Chad

    Along with all of the above, it’s an extruded cereal, no longer recognizable by the human digestive system. Thre’s also a strong link to the overwhelming amount of gluten issues stemming from overconsumption of extruded cereals. We’re setting up our children for failing health from infancy by feeding them food that no human can properly digest, for we have not evolved enough as a species yet.

  • Todd

    And what’s crazy is that often the Canadian versions of foods contain even *more* sodium. North of the border, 1 cup of Cheerios has *250* mg of sodium – over 30% more than the same cereal south of the border!

  • sss

    Excellent info — exactly what I needed to know! I’ve bookmarked “fooducate” and will be back for more well-researched and ACCURATE information. BTW, just looked at the regular “5 minute” oatmeal box — 0 mg of sodium. Sounds like the whole grain product is the way to go…

  • reynolds frank

    This is too much salt for health minded individuals. How can they get away with their health claims?