December 29, 2012: Jacobson – “A Salty Minefield for Parents”

December 29th, 2012

A recent Huffington Post article by Michael F. Jacobson (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-f-jacobson/kids-health-sodium_b_2270819.html), focuses on the reasons parents should be very concerned about salty foods in their children’s diets. A big reason that parents, especially of young children, should be concerned is that many adults’ food preferences are shaped in childhood. “Food manufacturers and restaurants are ensuring that many children of today will be the hypertensive adults of tomorrow by loading up popular foods, such as macaroni and cheese, chicken noodle soup, and hot dogs, marketed to children, with unconscionably high levels of salt and other sodium-containing additives”.

Reducing the salt content in kids’ foods would help train their taste buds to enjoy less-salty foods in childhood and in the future as adults. Too much sodium can boost the blood pressure of even little children, which puts them on the road to high blood pressure and an increased risk of stroke and heart disease.

In recent study by the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/salt/pdfs/Sodium_Pediatrics_Highlights.pdf) researchers found that kids are consuming 3,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium daily – about twice the recommended limits (1,200 mg is recommended for 4- to 8-year-olds and 1,500 mg for 9- to 13-year-olds).

WHAT YOU CAN DO: To lower your child’s sodium intake, the most important thing is to limit processed and restaurant foods. Only about 11 percent of our salt comes from the shaker; the vast majority is ADDED into chicken nuggets, Lunchables, Hot Pockets, and other processed foods.

Check out the cool slideshow that the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) posted at the end of the online article that gives detailed information about the sodium content in common foods that kids eat: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-f-jacobson/kids-health-sodium_b_2270819.html

December 29, 2012: NPR: The Paradox And Mystery Of Our Taste For Salt

December 29th, 2012

NPR recently had an interesting news story about our taste for salt; I urge you to check it out at: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/12/20/167619010/the-paradox-and-mystery-of-our-taste-for-salt

The part of the story that grabbed my attentions is that Gary Beauchamp, director of the Monell Center, says the first evidence for people adapting to the taste of a lower-sodium diet came from stories told by doctors who ordered patients with high blood pressure to switch to a low-sodium diet. Their patients reported that “it was awful at first, but after a while, it wasn’t so bad,” Beauchamp says. Their taste sensors seemed to adapt, a little bit the way our eyes adapt to a dark room. In fact, Beauchamp says, after they did that for a while, “when they went back to their normal food, it was too salty.” This has been my experience as well in talking with many people over the years who have successfully lowered their dietary sodium intake. According to the news story, Beauchamp decided to carry out a more carefully monitored experiment to study this(http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/36/6/1134.short) . He put people on a controlled, low-sodium diet, and they did adapt. “In about four to eight weeks, the amount of salt that they found optimal in soup or crackers declined by 40 or 50 percent.” It seems to show that we can get used to foods with less salt in it.

And this means that we all could be healthier, eat less sodium, and still enjoy our food! Which is good news for everyone.

Patent for SalTrax!

September 28th, 2012

We are proud to announce that SalTrax™’s Method and System for Tracking Sodium Intake has been approved as a U.S. Patent.

The Patent Office states, “The point based system . . . provides a powerful tool for controlling sodium intake”.

Stay tuned for more information!

www.SalTrax.com

April 28, 2012: Tasty herbed fish recipe

April 29th, 2012

This week I tried an herb that I’ve never seen or heard of previously; I will share with you a recipe for how to use it. My husband and I took our usual weekly trip to the Farmer’s Market in our area and found that a new vendor there sells fresh and flash frozen fish. We bought some John Dory, which is a very mild white fish similar to Sea Bass (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dory).

John Dory fish

We then stopped at our local nursery, Poway Nursery (http://powaynursery.com) and found that they had an herb called Lemon Balm (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon_balm). Because my husband doesn’t care for fresh lemon juice on fish, he thought that using Lemon Balm leaves might impart the lemony flavor without drying the fish out and . . . he was right! He created a recipe for a delicious tasting grilled fish using just the Lemon Balm, Fresh Basil with a very little salt and pepper (it would even be tasty without salt, however we compromised on using very little). On a side note, while I was at the nursery I learned about a store, Penzey’s Spices, that sells a variety of salt-free seasonings (http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzeys/c-Salt_Free.html?id=WbhrFkzg).

Lemon Balm

We also used the Lemon Balm leaves in making Salmon on the grill, along with fresh Rosemary for a very tasty, juicy fish. I’ve included the recipe for the John Dory fish here, however you can use it with many other fish to give that lemon taste without the acidity of the lemon juice.

Lemon Balm Jack

Jack Dory Filets (Jack Dory is a mild white fish similar to Sea Bass)

Lemon Balm (a nice lemony herb), chopped

Basil, chopped

Clarified Butter (or olive oil)

Ground Pepper

Dash of Salt (optional)

Lay out one square of aluminum foil for each fillet

Coat the center of the foil with butter or olive oil

Place the filet over the coating

Sprinkle chopped Lemon Balm and chopped Basil on top of each filet

Lightly season with salt and ground pepper (optional)

Loosely close the foil

Grill for 5 to 7 minutes over Medium High heat

(Cooking time may vary depending on individual grill temperature)

April 18, 2012: What if they took the excess salt away?

April 18th, 2012

In an article posted by CNN, “Why is fast food saltier in the US?” found at http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/17/health/salt-fast-food/index.html, a study was cited published this week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, where researchers analyzed the posted nutritional information for more than 2,000 items sold in multiple countries by the world’s six largest fast-food chains: Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, KFC, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and Subway. What they found was that overall, fast food tended to be saltier in the United States than in the other countries included in the study: Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand, and the UK. What’s more, the sodium content of the same menu items at the same chains varied by country, sometimes widely.

A key take-away point for me was, “the study findings show that limitations in food-processing technology are not a barrier to providing lower-sodium products, as the food industry has claimed”.

If technology isn’t the barrier, then what is it that prevents many food manufacturers and restaurants from taking steps to lower sodium content of their foods? I wonder if it wouldn’t be a case similar to what happened when people found out about “pink slime” in their ground beef. My local butcher is selling significantly more fresh ground beef as people choose not to take the chance that they may eat “pink slime” when purchasing ground beef at the grocery store.

Will taking away the excess sodium expose the poor quality and taste of  fast food? If so, if people stop eating so much fast food then what happens to corporate profits? Is this what the food manufacturers and restaurants are most afraid will happen when people learn what underlies that salty taste they’ve been trained to crave and to which they just may be “addicted”.

I don’t eat and don’t care for excess salted food and rarely eat out. However when dining out with friends or family, I always request my food to be unseasoned, unsalted and without sauces or dressings. This has been an eye opening experience in finding out which restaurants focus on quality ingredients versus which ones are hiding poor quality food behind salt and seasoned sauces.

I truly believe that if more people find out about the poor quality food being served in the US, there will be a demand for more quality, healthy ingredients which will contribute to our better overall quality of health.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

- Ask your favorite restaurant to lower the salt content in their menu items.

- Ask for your food to be unseasoned, unsalted, and without dressings or sauces.

- Only patronize restaurants which will offer lower sodium options and where you find the food beneath the salt is   truly healthy and of good quality.

- Try to cook whole foods at home whenever possible, using fresh or dried flavorful herbs to season the food.

April 3, 2012: Good News! Salt Book now available in Kindle Store

April 3rd, 2012

GOOD NEWS!

In addition to the hard copy, How to keep track of your salt intake: Easy as 1 – 2  - 3 is now available wirelessly in the Kindle Store at:

http://www.amazon.com/KEEP-TRACK-YOUR-INTAKE-ebook/dp/B0071FNWGQ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1333483923&sr=8-2

March 24, 2012: World Salt Awareness Week – What salt eating habit will you change?

March 24th, 2012

This week is World Salt Awareness week  www.worldactiononsalt.com

What will you do to change your salt eating habits?

Also visit www.SalTrax.com

February 9, 2012: American Heart Month – Focus on Sodium in CDC Vital Signs

February 10th, 2012

February is American Heart Month and it’s a great time to share the latest research and information about heart disease and stroke prevention. The newest edition of CDC Vital Signs focuses on excessive sodium in the American diet and the top 10 types of foods most responsible for it.

Visit: http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/Sodium/

Some key points of the CDC Vital Signs report on sodium include:

  • 9 in 10 Americans aged 2 years and older eat too much sodium.
  • 44% of the sodium we eat comes from just 10 types of foods.
  • 65% of sodium we eat comes from foods sold in grocery stores.
  • 25% of sodium we eat comes from foods served in restaurants.
  • Too much sodium can raise high blood pressure and increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • 800,000 people die each year from heart disease, stroke and other vascular diseases.

A key point that is very important to remember: most of the sodium we eat comes from food sold in grocery stores and in restaurants, and not what is added at the table. Sodium is already part of processed foods and cannot be removed. To address this, a comprehensive approach that involves public awareness about dietary guidelines for daily sodium consumption, food manufacturers and restaurants implementing steps to lower sodium in the foods they produce and sell and consumers comparing sodium in foods to choose lower sodium items is needed.

Reducing sodium content of the 10 leading food sources by 25 percent would lower total dietary sodium by more than 10 percent.

What YOU can do:

  • Choose to purchase healthy options and talk with your grocer or favorite restaurant about stocking lower sodium food choices.
  • Read the Nutrition Facts label while shopping to find the lowest sodium options of your favorite foods.
  • Eat a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and frozen fruits and vegetables without sauce.
  • Limit processed foods high in sodium.
  • When eating out, request lower sodium options.
  • Support initiatives that reduce sodium in foods in cafeterias and vending machines.

January 21: The truth about Lemon Pepper: It has SALT in it

January 21st, 2012

Did you know that most Lemon Pepper seasoning you find in the grocery store has SALT in it? Even if it doesn’t explicitly state “salt” on the front label, read the back label and you will often find that salt is one of the main, if not the first, ingredient.

You must be careful to read labels and make sure that the seasoning you use, whether Lemon Pepper or other seasoning, states that it is Salt-Free or in the list of ingredients does not have any words such as salt or sodium.

When I cook, I prefer the taste of fresh lemons and ground pepper if I want to use Lemon Pepper. This way I know for sure that it is truly no salt added and whatever I cook has a great flavor. If you don’t have a fresh lemon on hand, keep TrueLemon (www.TrueLemon.com) available for seasoning along with pepper.

I happened to watch the Dr. Oz show last week and although I applaud the effort to include the DASH diet, which is low sodium, into his ”Super Diet”; when discussing alternatives to adding salt, he made the common error of suggesting Lemon Pepper without the caution to read the list of ingredients to ensure that it is free of sodium. See: http://www.doctoroz.com/search?q1=super+diet

I believe that all seasonings that contain salt should be labeled as such on the front label so that the customer cannot be taken advantage of, especially in the case of Lemon Pepper. It is a natural assumption to think that something called Lemon Pepper would be salt free. If you agree, call the manufacturer and express your opinion about the importance of truth and clarity in food & spice labeling.

December 20, 2011: Start the New Year with less sodium

December 20th, 2011

Happy Holidays!

My hope is that everyone reading this blog will resolve for 2012 to try one, some, or all of the following:

  1. Read food labels for sodium amounts.
  2. Choose Low Sodium or No Added Salt foods in the grocery store.
  3. Beware of foods with sauces & dressings when eating out; when possible order foods plain with sauce on the side for taking small tastes.
  4. Use lemon & olive oil to salads instead of dressings.
  5. Avoid processed and packaged food as much as possible.

As Michael Pollan says, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

    Enjoy the holidays and have a very happy New Year!