This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

March 24, 2004

The End of a Love Affair

Unlike other cultures that add taste with more benign spices, the American culture has the unhealthy habit of adding taste by adding sodium. The Chinese have long known that more salt can cover an abundance of sins, including less-than-fresh vegetables. When folks in the US began asking for "no MSG," Chinese restaurateurs substituted salt. It worked. And the results are evident in most Chinese takeout meals with the exception of some restaurants in major metropolitan areas.

A long-awaited report from the Institute of Medicine states that America's love affair with salt needs to end, for the health and well-being of its citizens. It is an accepted fact that Americans don't consume enough potassium to balance out the over-abundance of sodium in their diets. As a result, many people are vulnerable to high blood pressure.

To drive the point home, one average slice of bread may have up to 240 milligrams of sodium. Processed foods are the greatest culprit. The average frozen meal contains upwards of 600 to 700 milligrams of salt. The average serving of Campbells® Soup contains more than 900 milligrams of sodium. It is not unusual for a canned lunch/dinner to have more than 1000 milligrams of salt. That's why nutritionists suggest that healthy shopping includes visits to the produce, meat (including fish), and dairy departments, avoiding many of the processed food aisles.

Historically, the Institute of Medicine is the organization that has set our nation's recommended levels of critical nutrients. Until now, food labels have reflected a remarkable daily intake of 2400 milligrams; that's equal to a generous teaspoon of salt. The new guidelines recommend just 1,500 milligrams per day. Going even farther, the Institute recommends that people over the age of 50 limit their intake to 1,300 and over the age of 70, the recommendation drops to 1200.

Like Campbells' Healthy Choice® line, expect more foods on supermarket shelves and restaurant menus, to be identified as "low sodium." Already, we have seen foods that are naturally low in fat prominently identified as such in their labeling. Expect more development and promotion of low-sodium foods.


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