The newsLINK Group - Disclosing Salt

Editorial Library Category: Restaurants Topics: Disclosure – Salt/Sodium Title: Disclosing Salt Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: When it comes to national movements, the U.S. often follows the lead of New York City. As a result, major changes in restaurant regulations there are of interest and concern elsewhere in the U.S., too, because it’s often the case that those regulations will be adopted by other regions of the country, such as requirements to post the number of calories in menu items and to eliminate trans fats in food. Editorial: Disclosing Salt 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ thenewslinkgroup.com │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 When it comes to national movements, the U.S. often follows the lead of New York City. As a result, major changes in restaurant regulations there are of interest and concern elsewhere in the U.S., too, because it’s often the case that those regulations will be adopted by other regions of the country, such as requirements to post the number of calories in menu items and to eliminate trans fats in food. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal by Alina Dizik, most people in the U.S. eat a restaurant meal five times per week. High levels of sodium can be found in the restaurant food they eat, including unlikely sources such as the bread, cookies, and salads. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 25 percent of the sodium in the U.S. diet comes from restaurant food. Most people eat 3,400 milligrams per day, but the American Heart Association recommends a much lower level: 1,500 mg. That’s about two- thirds of one teaspoon. Why the high sodium content? Although there are different kinds of salt, the most common kitchen salt is table salt, which consists of two elements: sodium and chlorine. Restaurants use salt plentifully for a variety of reasons: Generous salting, especially if it occurs more than once during the cooking process, will make food taste better. It also enhances frozen meat and vegetables that are not yet quite ripe. It is cheaper than the alternatives, such as herbs or other seasonings. Salty food lasts longer. Salt prevents bitterness in vegetables. Bread uses salt as a binding agent. (A binding agent is any ingredient that helps food keep its shape or stay bound together.) It’s common to salt chops and raw steaks before browning them. It’s also common to blanch vegetables in salty boiling water and then in ice water. Blanching is used to enhance flavor, color, and nutrient retention in vegetables, but the vegetables can absorb at least a little salt along the way. And although greens can be salted, most of the salt in salads comes from add-ins such as cheese, meat, and dressing. If the salad is too salty, the problem can be masked by adding a little more vinegar to the dressing. Of course, masking the presence of too much salt is a problem, too, because it means a food can be salty even though it doesn’t taste salty. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, what are the saltiest items on a restaurant menu? Bread Cheese Chicken Hamburgers Lunch meat Pasta Pizza Soups Anything that has liquid in it tends to be salty, because flavor is diluted by liquid and therefore it needs more seasoning. That means diners should be wary of soups, curries, and gravies. Other items to watch out for are meats and meat dishes from a delicatessen, cheese plates, braised meats, sausages, and potatoes. As a result of restaurants being generous with salt, however, most people are probably eating much more salt than they realize. That is a problem because 90 percent of the population will experience high blood pressure at some point, and two-thirds of the population is dealing with high blood pressure at any given time. That means about 70 million adults and approximately two million teens and children are affected. Only 52 percent of all adults who are dealing with high blood pressure actually have it under control. Part of that is because many people don’t even know they have a problem with high blood pressure, never mind dealing with it effectively.

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