Salt Sucks!

I got home on Friday and found a nice white envelope waiting for me.  There was no return address and they spelled my name right so I ripped it open.  What I found was a package of handouts neatly placed in a glossy duo tang from McDonald’s.  I get this sort of stuff from time to time and I was about to toss it into the recycling.  I guess I was bored because I decided to read it instead.  Basically, it was written to convince dietitians like myself, that McDonald’s serves healthy foods. 

I consider myself a person (or dietitian, or mother) who is flexible and always open to new possibilities.  But McDonald’s trying to sell me on the concept of healthy eating? C’mon……now that’s a stretch.  They even used Canada’s Food Guide in an attempt to convince us that they serve quality food.  Overall, fast food restaurants are problematic due to many reasons but one that is particularly worrisome these days is the excessive amounts of sodium in the food.  Here is the problem with the material sent from McDonald’s there was NO mention of sodium anywhere.  It’s a lie of omission. Incidentally there were scores of other issues with this package that incensed me but I am choosing to focus on salt for this blog.

Salt 024Hypertension, also know as high blood pressure is quickly becoming an epidemic in developing countries.  We are eating at least double the recommended sodium intake on a daily basis. The Canadian recommendations suggest an upper limit of 2300 mg of sodium per day. This is equivalent to about 1 teaspoon of table salt.  Even if we ditch the salt shaker, we are still getting insidious amounts of sodium from our food.  That is why we need stay informed.

Salt is used in the chemical reaction that makes bread rise.  Therefore, salt is present in most bread.  You need salt to make cheese.  So, imagine how much sodium in a slice of pizza or cheeseburger?  You might think there is a lot of salt in a bag of chips. You would be right but there is also a ton of salt in breakfast cereal too.  Canned soups have long been known to carry a huge salt load but so does the prepared tomato sauce you might toss over cooked pasta.  This is just a sample of some of the common foods we eat without paying attention to the salt content.  In order to actively reduce the amount of salt we eat, it is necessary to read the labels and choose lower sodium food products.

Fast food restaurants have the resources available to conduct laboratory analysis of their foods leading to appropriate food labeling.  If we know exactly what is in the food then at least we can make a choice. Luckily, this is the case and you can access this type of information on many fast food websites.  So, I went on to the McDonald’s site and found sodium amounts for all of their items.  I feel it is incredibly irresponsible of McDonald’s to put forth documentation about their food quality and withhold info about the salt content. At least it’s available on their website. 

I urge you to go to the McDonald’s website and look through their menu items for ingredients and nutrients.  Select the items you think are the least offensive to eat and then post them in the comments section on this blog.  I will review your selections and discuss. 

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6 thoughts on “Salt Sucks!

  1. The only thing I can imagine that would be remotely low in sodium would be a side salad with no dressing and apple slices, and that isn’t complete meal at all. People aren’t knowledgeable or educated enough about food like this so they can be fooled by campaigns and ads that say they are “healthy” choices. It’s really sad!

  2. Real sea salt, or things like the grey salt from Normandy, for instance, are great to sprinkle liberally over your food as they are actually way lower in sodium than table salt (which is what is causing all these problems) and they have the added value of being high in other essential minerals that are missing from the typical North American diet.

  3. @Nicole Indeed the side salad has very little sodium. Check out some of the other salads. The sodium amounts are staggering. @Andrea if you serve only 3/4 cup and mix it with some tuna it is a better choice. It does have less sodium than the cheese burger. @Ilana sea salt, Kosher salt, the lovely salt from Holt Renfrew’s cafe taste way better than iodized table salt. However, it is essential to keep salt intake tight with high blood pressure. Even those wonderful salts can pose a problem for those with HTN. I didn’t mention potassium intake in my blog. But is an important mineral to help balance sodium in the body and can be found in bananas, avocados and beans to name a few.

  4. Hi I’m discovering your blog today. It’s always nice to see that other dietitians can get angry too.
    As someone who goes to McDonald’s more than I should, I can tell that the sodium info is also printed on most of their products.
    But it doesn’t change the fact that the material they sent out to dietitians was pretty lousy. I am yet to find one colleague who found something positive in this environmental disaster.
    Great to reed you, one more blog to check out now!

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