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.