Salt Level in Fast Food is Higher Than Thought

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A new study from a group I had not heard of before, Consensus Action on Salt and Health (Cash), has found what I can only call absurdly high levels of salt in food from fast food restaurants. Even though most fast food joints claim they have reduced the level of salt in their food, the study found that a single fast food meal can contain 2 – 4 times of an individuals total daily salt intake recommendation. Here is a pretty in-depth article on the study.

I have written before about ways to reduce salt in your diet. Maybe I should add to the list: Stay as far away from Pizza Hut as possible! Of course, it is not just Pizza Hut and not only the salt that is in the food when it is delivered to you that is the problem. I remember eating at McDonalds a few years ago and noticing how most people added salt to their french fries. Imagine the intake level that would have created.

I think the real question that is raised here is: Does it really matter? I saw people in an Australian forum calling for government regulations on the salt level of food. If regulations are put into place to control the level of salt in food, will it just be another example of government trying to protect people from themselves? I mean, who does not know that a Quarter Pounder with cheese, fries, and a soda is terribly unhealthy for you!

I think the best approach is to require the restaurants to prominently display salt and fat levels of their food and then let people make informed choices. If we can educate people about what is really in their food, maybe the companies will be forced to make positive changes on their own.

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Will Sig
1 Anna

Will, I bought a load of sea salt. It is amazing if you have salt free food, how much salt you can taste when something is salty. I am between, sometimes I feel like I need salt, and sometimes I cannot stand it, meaning feels too salty. As you said the problem with fast foods, there is lot of salt in them, and people still top it up. Sometimes, when you like something your mind ignores everything else, I think you know my big mac addiction – take a note, I think its going on the second month now without big mac. Now with that study, I think its going to be even more different for me, all we need is someone telling us I guess statistics. I remember, I used to be KFC regular client until they released report how much fat was there. I think I had KFC may be once in 10 years.

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2 Will

Good for you, Anna. Two months without McDonalds! KFC was actually one of the highest in the salt study. We all need some salt in our diet, but these days we probably get enough without ever adding it on our own.

I know how hard it is to train your taste buds away from salt. It is especially hard if, like me, you have a taste for it. My youngest daughter really does not like salty food so I hope she can maintain that.

Sea salt is just like any other salt so even if it is healthier and cleaner, the amount used still has to be limited.

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3 Catherine

Thanks for this info, Will. I agree with what you said about protecting consumers from themselves – fast food should be a no-brainer by now. I would, however, like to see some limits on what and how things are marked to kids. Places like McD’s, things like sugar cereals and snack with sugar and empty calories go after children like crazy – and very effectively.

Just this afternoon I passed by a BK and though – do people really still eat this stuff??

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4 Will

Hi Catherine! Yes the marketing to kids is insane in its aggressiveness. Our kids, at least as they got older, started to see through this stuff. But when they were younger it was tough to limit their fast food intake without them really complaining!

-Will

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5 Anna

I just heard on the news again about salt issue, this time for Canadians. Like you said, we eat a lot more salt than we really should. What was scary is that not only fast food is full of salt, but they said that simple slice of toast bread or bran careal has nice dossage of salt. I think one day I am going to measure and see how much salt I consume per day, I think knowing is controlling. I prefer sea salt over regular salt, just like the texture better. I terms of use, we try not to use salt as much, as I use more herbs to spice it up or nothing, sometimes it is not needed at all. Anna 🙂

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6 Will

I make a lot of the bread I eat. When I buy bread, I get it from an old world type bakery that uses 100% whole wheat and organic ingredients. It really has probably been 15 or 20 years since I ate any of the typical commercial breads.

Salt is sneaky because it is in food you might not suspect and sometimes in surprisingly high quantities.

-Will

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7 Anna

Wow, Will you almost have everything home made, that is great. I would love to do that too, however, on the right track. We don’t eat much bread, may be just weekends when my husband makes breakfast and we treat ourselves very well with two eggs, nice toast, and side dish of veggies. Okay, now I am hungry just by writing this, and it is about 11 pm here, lol. Anna 🙂

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8 Will

Well it is 10 AM here and honestly, Anna’s comment has me headed to the kitchen to make some eggs with veggies and toast!

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9 Anna

Lol, Will. It was Saturday and I had no eggs in the basket, like you Will you can just go visit your chickens, lol. So we had some old fashion oat meal today with fresh cut apples. Great humor, and what are you doing 10 am at home, do you work from home?

BTW to stay on the salt topic, I took one of canned soups I had laying around, and since now I read the sodium levels, I was shocked with the 1000 mg of salt per cup. So today I made my own soup, very little salt, and I can see how the 1000 mg of salt can be added to cup of soup very easily, because my soup wasn’t salty at all, but I was surprised that a bit of black pepper and many vegetables did make the difference.

Another story, I had some frozen sausages, and I love sausages, but then again, these are salt mines, one sausages about 900 mg of salt. So that day I almost ate roasted potatoes with salad only. But then to my surprise I calculated how much salt I had through out the day, not much 100 mg. So I ate it, but not sure if this will happen again, lol, unless the craving takes over. And not sure if it is better to eat all the salt at once, or through out the day.

Will, I thought I share my salt stories with you again, since now it is something I added to my watch list. Anna 🙂

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10 Will

Hi Anna – Canned soup is sometimes one of the highest. It does not take much to surpass the daily recommended amount of sodium. A teaspoon of salt has 2,325 mg!

You know the saying that there a few things in life you never want to see… Sausage making is one of them!

-Will

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11 YADENIS CACERES

I THINK EATING AT MCdonals is bad for your health and any fast food resturant. You should cook more often at home or pick another resturant that is healthier for you. salt is really bad for you!!!! if you in a diet you shouldn’t eat at any resturants there portions are to large!!!!!

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12 Mike Touch

I heard that report that Pizza Hut was the worst for you. I physically can’t eat a Pizza Hut pizza due to the huge amounts of salt.

Having said that in the last 3 weeks I’ve had 3 dominos and 2 macdonald’s meals.

I need to get healthy!!!

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13 Jagad Guru

good point, Will. i recently read another article about how burgers from McDonalds is full of chemicals and preservatives and no nutrients whatsoever, and that after like 7 years or so, the same patty someone apparently preserved, still looks almost the same with no molds etc. Sorry, i forgot where i read it. Anyway, this may be true. However, other people raised this point also that fast food stuff indeed is bad for the health but doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re devoid of nutrients. For sure, people would get some nutrients but the point being raised is that it is most probably the salt content which keeps the patties and fries preserved even for such a long time. Be it years, months, or just days, still, doubtless to say, something preserves it and it doesn’t look good since it doesn’t come naturally anymore. This point by you about the amount of salt does come strong in reinforcing both issues. Thanks for the info.

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