The Biggest Risk on Your Dining Table

by Savitha C Muppala on Dec 4 2008 12:07 PM

How often have you reached out for those healthy foods on supermarket shelves and without so much as a second look, dropped the products in your shopping bag?

Here is a line of caution.

Recent analysis of low fat supposedly healthy foods were found to contain high levels of sodium, much more than the salt contained in full-fat products. Look at what experts found when they analysed 37 popular supermarket products- even products that did not taste salty contained unhealthy amount of salt.

According to a report published in the Consumer Reports magazine, 350 milligrams of salt was found in a cup of Kellogg's Raisin Brain cereal. A half-cup of Friendship 1 percent low-fat cottage cheese contained a surprising 360 milligrams of sodium; and a Whole Grain White Bagel from single Pepperidge Farm contained an unimaginable 440 milligrams of sodium.

Jamie Hirsh, associate health editor at Consumer Reports, said, “Our analysis found that lower-fat products might be higher in sodium. That's in part because when fat is taken out of full-fat foods, sodium is sometimes used to compensate for flavour."

2,300 milligrams of sodium, equivalent to one teaspoon of table salt is the recommended daily salt intake for healthy adults. Middle-aged and older people, especially those with high blood pressure, should limit their intake of salt to 1,500 milligrams a day.

"On average, Americans consume far more sodium than the recommended daily limit. Unfortunately, cutting back isn't easy because of the high levels of sodium in the many processed and prepared foods that Americans eat on a regular basis," Hirsh said.

The risk of stroke and heart attack go up following a diet high on sodium. High salt intake also increases risk of other health conditions such as asthma, kidney stones, osteoporosis and stomach cancer.

Infact just reducing the salt intake by 50% from a regular American Diet can save 150,000 lives annually, the American Medical Association said.