Monday, February 02, 2009

Fu Fu

The Japanese are good with puns. Today, 2-2 (our Groundhog Day), can be written as the characters for "married couples," so today is something like happy married couples day. The Japanese celebrate our Valentine's Day, too, mostly (I make this up) because it's a holiday that lends itself to cutie stationery and lots of chocolate.

Today, however, I am going to talk about salt, or dietary/elemental sodium, which, on food information labels, is indistinguishable from NaCl. Na or NaCl — it probably doesn't matter, because the people writing up the FDA-mandated labels all have different ideas about rounding and percentages and totals, but I find it interesting that the "less healthy" foods seem to allow you more. I'm not surprised, are you?

Hence, a serving of:

Sea Salt (1.5 grams / half-teaspoon) has
590 mg of sodium, or
25% of "daily value" for those eating 2,000 calories in 24 hours

[total sodium math=2360 mg]

Whole Wheat Bread ("with honey," and high fructose corn syrup, the latter further down the list than it usually figures on store-loaves — this is the 45-calories-per-slice kind and the closest thing you can get to sugar-free bread without making it yourself)
210 mg

[total sodium math=2333 mg]

140 mg

[total sodium math=2333 mg]

"Hint of Salt" Wheat Thins (these used to be labeled as "low sodium" crackers, but I guess Nabisco tested that name again for no reason and changed it — or the FDA changed their rules, which would explain the math that follows)
65 mg

[total sodium math=2166 mg]

"Hint of Salt" Triscuits (the "low sodium" version of which has not been available around here since October)
50 mg

[total sodium math=2500 mg]

Peanut butter
55 mg

[total sodium math=2750 mg]

Diet Pepsi
35 mg ("or less")

[total sodium math=3500 mg]

Regular Coca-Cola
35 mg

[total sodium math=3500 mg]

Black beans
20 mg

[total sodium math=2000 mg]

So, beans say you should only have 2000 mg of sodium per day, and pop-makers say you can go up to 3500 mg. Bread and Ovaltine people agree on 2333 mg, but peanut butter pushers give you 2750 mg, and the same darn cracker company provides a range of 2166 to 2500 mg.

Math people, tell me what I'm missing.

High blood pressure people, tell me you know what you're really supposed to be eating and share how in the world you know what you actually do eat.

Other dieters, feel free to play this game with fat content and calories using items found in your own cabinet.

And on that note, I call for a mandatory across-the-board IRS-audit of all U.S. elected officials. Everyone else, we should be safe this year — there are a lot of politicians. Congress (and Congressional pensioners) should be audited every year as part of the gig.


Hyperblogal said...

If you're still eating peanut butter I wouldn't sweat the salt.

m.v. said...

I think people should it what tastes good. I like to put salt on my food.I pickled a whole jar of tomatoes (about 5 tablespoons of salt per jar), and I ate about half of smoked salted mackerel. Surely enough salt to beat the limits. I don't want to live to old age. On my grave they will write "He ate tasty foods and didn't read the labels"

Susan said...

yikes - how am I not already dead? and here I thought I was being safe by just never adding salt to anything and not partaking too often of chips, etc.