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Interpreting the Salt Content on Food Labels

Timeless Fitness Tip

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is making an effort to create public awareness of the amount of salt in store products. "By appropriately labeling, we are attempting to inform the public and those who want to keep their sodium intake down as to the amount of sodium they are consuming," says Ida Yoder, a chemist with the FDA's over-the-counter drug products division.

But some salt descriptors are not so cut and dry. Use the flowing list as a guideline to help determine the approximate number of milligrams of salt in a product:

  1. Sodium free -- Contains less than 5 mg of sodium per serving
  2. Very low sodium -- 35 mg or less per serving
  3. Low Sodium -- 140 mg or less per serving Reduced Sodium -- Contains at least 25 percent less sodium than the original product
  4. Without added salt -- No salt is added during processing to a product which would normally have salt added
  5. No salt added -- Unsalted

Fresh is Best

Avoid processed foods in the grocery store and head directly to the fresh fruit and vegetable aisle instead. Rather than adding salt to these fresh food items while cooking, use unsalted butter or salt alternatives. Many salt substitutes, such as NoSalt, are sodium-free but taste like the real thing. By incorporating salt substitutes and other spices into your cooking, you can still add flavor to food while skipping the sodium. In addition, use a variety of spice substitutes as salt alternatives like Seasoned NoSalt.

If you do buy canned vegetables, rinsing them in water for one minute can reduce their sodium content by 40 percent. Also, it is important to resist the temptation of fast food, which also usually has a high salt content.

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