Now that the salt issue has gotten everyone’s attention, we should be celebrating. Food manufacturers will now cut the sodium content of hundreds of prepared food products. Shopping at our local grocery stores will be so much easier for those following a low sodium regimen. It’ll be so simple and painless too. Not anything like the low fat, sugar free, or low carb crazes.
Sure, low fat products are problematic. When fat is removed, flavor, texture & “mouth-feel” suffer. So manufacturers have to use an assortment of gums and stabilizers to mimic the consistency of fats. But the fat impersonators create “off” flavors, so the amounts of salt & sweetener must be increased to mask the unpleasant taste. The end result is a low fat food that is high in salt, sweetener, and additives.
And yes, sugar free products are equally problematic. For all its supposed faults, at least sugar is a real food. It started out as either sugar cane or sugar beets. In order to make something sugar free, food manufacturers have to use a variety of sweeteners cooked up in a chemist’s lab. Often times, they, too, contribute “off” flavors that also must be disguised. In sugar free baked products, gums and stabilizers may be used to help create an acceptable texture. Again, the end result is a sugar free food that is high in additives.
Similar problems exist with low carb food products. But reducing the sodium content of prepared foods should be easy. All you have to do is just simply cut down on the amount of salt used. That’s what you would do in real life cooking. No need to substitute weird ingredients; no need to resort to gums & stabilizers; no need to disguise a strange flavor. No need to completely overhaul recipes. JUST CUT DOWN THE AMOUNT OF SALT! Nothing could be easier. Sure, the food might taste a bit bland and a bit flat. But that’s to be expected. After all, most prepared foods were way oversalted to begin with.
I eagerly read all the reports of Campbell’s Soups, Heinz, and other food manufacturers lowering the sodium content of their products. However, in the back of my mind I wondered if the low salt bandwagon would travel down the same familiar paths as the low fat, sugar-free, and low carb crazes. Well, I got my answer this week.
I was running low on Heinz salt free ketchup, so I picked some up at the store. No need to check labels because I’ve been buying it for a few years now. It wasn’t until I started to write a new blog entry about the glories of homemade, salt free barbecue sauce that I noticed something different about my newest ketchup bottle. In my blog post, I planned to blather on & on about how easy it was to make your own tasty barbecue sauce by using salt free ketchup as a base. But I stopped typing in mid sentence when I noticed the “Made with AlsoSalt” symbol on the label. I checked the ingredients and discovered that now one (1) tablespoon of Heinz No Salt Ketchup contains 170 mg. of potassium from potassium chloride and L-lysine monohydrocloride. My heart sunk. So this is what the low salt bandwagon is going to look like – phony salt substitutes instead of just lowering salt content.
AlsoSalt is probably a fine product. And I bet the company was thrilled when it got the Heinz contract. You may think I’m making too much of a little added potassium, but I’m tired of artificially “healthy” foods and disgustingly unhealthy foods. Foods with fat substitutes, fake sweeteners with weird aftertastes, strange gums and stabilizers that have the texture of snail slime. Foods with so much sugar you need to see a dentist immediately after consuming them. Foods with so much salt that your mouth burns from eating them. Foods with so much fat and grease that you feel like you need to take a hot shower after munching on them. And now there’s extra potassium.
I know someone who thinks she’s eating a “healthy” breakfast when she sits down to Special K and fat free half & half sprinkled with Equal, coffee with more Equal, and strawberries sprinkled with even more Equal. Yes, it’s low in calories. Yes, it’s low in fat. And, yes, it’s low in sugar. But healthy? Give me a break!
Luckily, Hunt’s still makes salt free ketchup without any kind of salt substitute. Unfortunately, I can’t find it at any of my local grocers, so I’ll have to order it online. I wonder how long it will stay salt-substitute free.