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Curb Salt Use - Yay or nay?

Rmis32 Jan 10, 2010 08:57 PM

New York Seeks National Effort to Curb Salt Use

A broad new health initiative sets a goal of reducing the salt in packaged and restaurant food by 25 percent over the next five years.

read more - http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/11/bus...

  1. Rmis32 Jan 31, 2010 08:43 PM

    From 1/29/10 NY Times
    "On the Plate, a Pinch or a Pound?"
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/31/nyr...

    1. b
      bear Jan 26, 2010 02:29 AM

      A little input from the always thoughtful Michael Ruhllman...

      http://blog.ruhlman.com/2010/01/salt-...

      1 Reply
      1. re: bear
        maria lorraine Jan 26, 2010 05:18 PM

        "if you eat natural foods, you don’t need to worry about salt. Period. End of discussion. Some people have real issues with hypertension—they have to watch it on the salt. My mom, I go easy on it when she visits (makes her ankles puffy).

        "Otherwise the truth is this: if you have a salt intake problem, you’re eating the wrong food."

      2. MandalayVA Jan 25, 2010 07:07 AM

        It's a lot easier to outlaw salt than it is to outlaw processed food. No secret that as the rise of the chain restaurant occurred came the rise of obesity and health problems.

        1. s
          soupkitten Jan 24, 2010 08:09 AM

          nay. people have cooked with, consumed and needed salt for the entirety of human history. the more active a person is, the more salt s/he needs for proper balance in her/his diet. athletes in particular need to be aware of proper sodium levels to avoid life-threatening complications resulting from hyponatremia. zero-salt diets are tied to higher mortality in a way that doctors and scientists don't fully understand, and people on low-salt diets can be at greater risk for heart attacks and neurological problems including coma, seizures, and general muscle weakness, fatigue, and irritability.

          the primary source of sodium-related health problems such as high blood pressure has zilch to do with table salt, it's the sodium preservatives in processed foods. our bodies can cope with salt and we need sodium, but we can't necessarily process the sodium food additives in junk food. eat real food with salt, avoid fake food with preservatives, duh.

          2 Replies
          1. re: soupkitten
            Rmis32 Jan 24, 2010 09:13 AM

            Personally, I have mixed feelings about this issue. I do cherish my freedom of choice and currently, I exercise it by minimizing the use of processed foods in my diet. Not necessarily for concern about salt, but there is a whole lot of stuff that goes into processed food that is of questionable value to one's health. I'm no expert, but my general feeling is that the closer your food is to a whole & natural state, the better.

            Regarding salt, many people responding to this thread imply that by food manufacturers reducing the amount of salt in their products, they would be deprived of taste that they enjoy. However, if, as it is claimed, 80% of our salt consumption comes from packaged food & restaurants, it would seem that these sources are putting much more salt into their products than we ourselves choose to apply in our own home cooking. That would suggest that some of the salt content could be removed without compromising the taste of the food.

            I know of no source that is suggesting "zero salt diets" and the article clearly states it would be a VOLUNTARY program. David Kessler, in his book "The End of Overeating", describes how some of the chain restaurants test recipes with an eye to see how they can manipulate salt, sugar & fat content to make their menu items more addictive. Not unlike the way the tobacco industry manipulated nicotine levels to hook their customers.

            Does the gov't have the right or the obligation to apply some pressure - not talking about an outright ban or even setting legal limits - to try to get industry to implement practices that contribute to the general public health?

            1. re: Rmis32
              mcf Jan 24, 2010 10:08 AM

              I totally agree with your first paragraph.

              The problem with the salt recommendation is that it's a reduction to an absurdly low level. It's painting a target on an essential nutrient instead of addressing, as you discuss, the total effects of a crap diet it's added to. Limiting salt does not contribute to public health on its own. If they want to promote health, they should be educating about diets with high mineral/nutrient content foods, colorful, leafy stuff and proteins.

              The government has a responsibility to promote the public's health, but instead, they've served us up to the sugar, grain, drug and medical equipment manufacturing groups.

          2. c
            ceojr1963 Jan 24, 2010 12:11 AM

            Try for not eating foods that are heavily processed, cook as much with fresh vegies as possible. Watch your own salt intake.

            Myself I have always loved salt. Used to love rock salt as a kid, and can't figure out why my salt intake can be really high and I don't have high blood pressure, or any noticable illness because of it. There are days that I just crave salt, and others that I don't. I don't salt many foods, I use several no-salt recipes adding in herbs for the zesty tastes.

            But generally speaking, in times past salt was a way to kill the germs that made food go bad. Bacteria is killed by salt. So going totally no salt might not be good for foods either, because spoilage can ramp back up. We just need to watch what we eat.

            I am always afraid, the health police will start down a road of banning everything they can think of that is bad for humans, After all, we do produce a lot of CO2 when we breath.

            People should police themselves, not Gov't rules, people should speak up and tell the product makers they like less salt, by not buying, or by changing brands, or mail to the companies. Making Gov't rules can get us into further danger and get messy too.

            Charles.

            1. junescook Jan 23, 2010 08:44 AM

              I really need to cut back; I take blood pressure meds to bring me back to normal. Can anyone recommend some good substitutions or tricks for using less sodium, and also for getting more potassium (since heart health is also dependent on maintaining a balance between the two I understand)?

              3 Replies
              1. re: junescook
                mcf Jan 23, 2010 09:11 AM

                http://www.vaughns-1-pagers.com/food/...

                The problem can be less an issue of high salt intake than it is of the total balance, as you say, of electrolytes/minerals in the diet. Potassium, magnesium and calcium should all be examined in the diet, too.

                Also, higher carb consumption raises fluid volume by storing three water molecules attached to each glycogen molecule, so cutting back starches and sugars can often lower bp nicely, too, it has a diuretic effect as does high protein.

                1. re: junescook
                  Rmis32 Jan 23, 2010 09:21 AM

                  The linked article discusses ways to decrease sodium & increase potassium in one's diet. I hope you find it helpful.
                  http://www.seacoastonline.com/article...

                  1. re: Rmis32
                    junescook Jan 23, 2010 12:51 PM

                    Thanks Rmis and mcf.

                2. Rmis32 Jan 22, 2010 05:53 PM

                  The OP simply asked yay or nay, so it is not surprising that The answers were mostly definite, one way or the other, with nays predominating. A lot of fear of big brother, despite the claim that " The plan is voluntary for food companies and involves no legislation. It allows companies to cut salt gradually over five years so the change is not so noticeable to consumers."

                  As Americans, we are deeply suspicious of any gov't encroachments on our liberty. Yet, laws requiring seat belt use, taxes on cigarettes along w/ bans on smoking in many public places have clearly shown benefits to public health.

                  We want to guard our freedom of choice, but a lot of the choices are being made by makers of processed foods and we are often unaware of how much salt is added to our food. "Home cooks always ask me about salt in recipes and my response is this: virtually all the salt that one consumes comes from processed, packaged, fast or restaurant foods. The amount that one uses in home cooking is small by comparison." (Christopher Kimball, publisher of Cook’s Illustrated)

                  Here are some excerpts from http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.co..., if you'd like to read more.
                  The evidence is solid, based on many years of research, that reducing sodium intake from the high amounts now consumed in the U.S. will reduce the risks of these conditions (hypertension, stroke and heart disease.) Moreover, the modest, gradual reduction over five years planned in New York will not be detectable by consumers because it will occur slowly and simultaneously across the city.

                  "Considering how much sodium, saturated fats and sugars people have been ingesting for generations, isn’t it amazing that the human race has not become extinct?"

                  "The time is long overdue for regulating sodium, just as government regulates other harmful food ingredients."

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Rmis32
                    mcf Jan 23, 2010 06:35 AM

                    The evidence isn't any more solid for salt than it is for fat. Both are often markers for diets high in sugar and white flour and chemically cured meats, for example. And for low quality prepared foods. Using epemiology to make clnical decisions is really bad health policy. Salt requirements are highly individual.

                    1. re: mcf
                      Rmis32 Jan 23, 2010 08:38 AM

                      So you are dismissing the contention that "If everyone consumed half a teaspoon less salt per day, there would be between 54,000 and 99,000 fewer heart attacks each year and between 44,000 and 92,000 fewer deaths, according to the study, which was conducted by scientists at University of California San Francisco, Stanford University Medical Center and Columbia University Medical Center."?

                      1. re: Rmis32
                        mcf Jan 23, 2010 09:01 AM

                        Yes, I do. Not without having read all the relevent research for over a decade, though, on my own, first. Question authority; it's brought you a lot of bad dietary and drug treatment studies. Premarin, Rezulin, LymeRix, Celebrex, Vioxx, homicides uninvestigated due to fake science calling them "hereditary SIDS.

                        That's not to say some folks don't get too much sodium in their diets, only that it's not being eaten alone, and some of us get extremely ill (and dead!) by following such extreme recommendations as those proposed. I do think the heart of the issue may well be the inferior quality of the diet that typically contains the highest sodium, and that picking out one factor is very foolish.

                  2. pikawicca Jan 22, 2010 05:22 PM

                    Salt performs a singular function in cooking that no herb or spice can replace. However, all processed foods and fast foods, and much food in upscale restaurants have crazy levels of salt. If you mostly eat unprocessed food cooked at home, all but the most salt-sensitive folks (and good luck finding out if you are) can season their food to taste. If your food tastes salty, it's been over-salted.

                    1. s
                      sophie fox Jan 22, 2010 03:10 PM

                      Absolutely, and we should forbid people walking outside in the winter because they could slip on some ice and get hurt. Then again, we could take the salt that we sholdn't be using on our food and put it on our walkways, but perhaps that's politically incorrect as well.

                      I'm an advocate of personal choice and "common" sense.

                      1. chowser Jan 19, 2010 08:10 AM

                        I would vote for an option to reduce the salt but not make it mandatory. I haven't read any study that has shown that salt is bad for a health active person, and in fact, when training for long distance events, athletes aim for more salt/electrolytes in their diet. It's in Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition guidebook. My friend and I were talking about how we crave more salt, the more we sweat and work out. My bp is 90/60 on a good day (lower if not) so I don't skimp on salt--I don't go overboard but it's not on my radar and I don't think it needs to be.

                        1. p
                          Pete Oldtown Jan 18, 2010 12:59 PM

                          I have had chronic kidney stone problems for decades. I got put on all sorts of diets and nothing worked. When I cut out salt and soft drinks, along, unfortunately, with many green leafy vegetables, my health improved within a year.

                          That said, I don't think we should be telling restaurants how to season. Packaged food is different. For instance, I like the Tortilla Crusted Fish dish that Lean Cuisine sells. It's pretty high in sodium, so I eat it only once in a while.

                          It's amazing how quickly you lose your taste for salt. I really can't eat most fast food now; all I taste is salt. In fine dining situations, though, the salt is used wisely and appropriately. Someone who knows how to cook also knows not to let salt overwhelm the flavor.

                          1. Caitlin McGrath Jan 17, 2010 11:30 AM

                            Mark Kurlansky's (author of the excellent Salt: A World History) take on it: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs...

                            1. h
                              hudsonvalleyfoodblog Jan 15, 2010 01:05 PM

                              Jeffrey Steingarten has an interesting chapter in his book "The Man Who Ate Everything" devoted to Salt. In this chapter he researches the like between salt and high blood pressure and concludes that there is no link. He also tests the "saltiness" of different types of salt and concludes that there is no difference. So kosher salt is the same as sea salt or pink salt. Here is a link that has a preview of the chapter.

                              If the link doesn't work just go to Google Books and search by title. The name of the chapter is Salt.

                              http://books.google.com/books?id=Ykkh...

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog
                                thew Jan 16, 2010 05:41 AM

                                the saltiness of salt remains about the same. but seasalts and colored salts often are not pure NaCl but have other minerals as well, which can affect the flavor

                                1. re: thew
                                  h
                                  hudsonvalleyfoodblog Jan 16, 2010 07:00 AM

                                  Agreed, salts are 99% NaCl as you stated and then 1% something else. I guess my real point is that sea salt isn't saltier than any other kind of salt. So when Campbell's Soup states in their commercials that they use sea salt in now because its healthier that is just not true. The only way they are reducing the amount of sodium in their soup is by using less salt, sea or otherwise.

                                  I do agree that some salts taste different. But I do think that when used in cooking where the salt is disolved the taste difference is much less then a lot of us want to admit. I cook with a as many as 10 different kinds of salts on a regular basis. Obviously something like Truffle salt tastes much different than kosher salt. But I think we'd all be hard pressed to correctly identify the pasta cooked with kosher salt vs Italian Sea Salt. If I put salt in my pasta water, then toss the pasta in a sauce I think its nearly impossible for anyone to tell what kind of salt was in the cooking water. Until I see a taste test prove otherwise that's my position.

                                  That said I will continue to cook with different types of salt because its fun, not because I think there is a huge difference in the taste.

                                  1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog
                                    maria lorraine Jan 17, 2010 12:17 PM

                                    Remember, the culprit isn't salt, but sodium. Sodium benzoate and sodium bisulfite, both preservative. Sodium nitrate and nitrites in processed meats. And on and on.

                                    Table salt -- sodium chloride -- that you add during cooking or eating is less than one-third of the sodium most Americans ingest each day. They get the rest from processed foods. So, eat fresh things, and use table salt. Make sure you ingest plenty of potassium to balance your salt ingestion (your osmotic regulation).

                                    Doesn't Mayor Bloomberg have more important things to think about?

                                    1. re: maria lorraine
                                      h
                                      hudsonvalleyfoodblog Jan 17, 2010 04:52 PM

                                      You would think he does have more to think about. I think the problem with his approach is that he'd only really have influence of restaurants in NYC. The processed foods that are the real problem won't change just for NY. If they sell their product globally they won't change their product just for NYC. So I don't see him getting much support on this one.

                                2. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog
                                  mcf Jan 22, 2010 03:37 PM

                                  Not only that, but I once read a Japanese study that reported the highest mortality among those exercising the most salt restriction. Folks are going to eat their food as salty as they like and want it. Your body requires it, and you can't maintain homeostasis if it's severely restricted.

                                  Salt sensitive ht is usually the result of aldosteronism, not dietary salt intake.

                                  1. re: mcf
                                    h
                                    hudsonvalleyfoodblog Jan 24, 2010 06:32 AM

                                    I think what this whole debate boils down to is that Americans need to take more responsibility for their own health. Proper health education is key but in the end individuals need to control what they put in their mouth, be it cigarettes, trans fat or high sodium foods. When we as a society rely on the government to control these things it shifts the responsibility away from the real culprit, ourselves. I'm not a health nut by any means but it still baffles me how lax a lot of people are about the food they eat. All the laws in the world won't change people's irresponsible behavior.

                                    1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog
                                      mcf Jan 24, 2010 07:26 AM

                                      Folks started limiting fats and loading up on starches and sugars in response to the implementation of the food pyramid; took only one generation for "adult onset" diabetes to become a pediatric disease, along with myriad other health issues that have ensued. Folks and food manufacturers do alter behavior, often to our detriment.

                                      I totally agree that taking control of our own diets and health is key, because the putative authorities and the misleading health headlines are harming us. We alone live with the the effects, good or bad, of these critical decisions.

                                      1. re: mcf
                                        h
                                        hudsonvalleyfoodblog Jan 24, 2010 02:38 PM

                                        Yup, it's our life you'd think people would care more about the food they eat. Still can't figure out why a single person eats at McDonald's. It doesn't taste good and its horrible for you.

                                3. c
                                  Cachetes Jan 15, 2010 08:01 AM

                                  My problem with this is that the mayor, from what I can see, has no evidence that the salt in chain food and packaged foods is what's causing higher incidences of high blood pressure. He just hears that salt is bad, and that these foods have a lot of salt, and is running with it. Even the health clinicians are in disagreement, with some saying that better studies need to be done.

                                  if the mayor wants to help the city's health, he should better fund schools so that there are things like nutrition classes and gym classes for all students from K-12. Education and opportunity are likely much better ways to achieve longterm health than poorly conceived regulation. Maybe he should dig into his deep pockets to fund them himself, rather than using his money to buy his way into power.

                                  1. thew Jan 15, 2010 07:55 AM

                                    1st - this salt thing is completely voluntary - so there is no big brother shite going on here

                                    2nd - salt is not harmful, unless you already have conditions for which salt is contra indicated. if you have high blood pressure, for example, don't eat too much salt. however if your BP is normal, salt will not give you high pressure

                                    1. g
                                      gfr1111 Jan 15, 2010 07:44 AM

                                      Personally, I like a lot of salt in my food. Everybody does things that are unhealthy for them and makes a choice to do it. Then you get the do-gooders/government interventionists/"Pleasure Police," as radio personality Cigar Dave refers to them, wanting to prohibit you from doing something "for your own good."

                                      The Pleasure Police's latest argument is that we all pay for healthcare. Therefore, the government should be able to step in and regulate the amount of salt in our food. Don't you see where this slippery slope is leading? What is to stop the Pleasure Police from prohibiting you (probably by taxing you at onerous rates) from eating high fat food or drinking alcoholic beverages? There is already a bill pending in Congress to tax the heck out of soft drinks because they contain too much sugar. Chicago banned foie gras, although I understand the City Council has now repealed that stupid law.

                                      Where does it end?

                                      1. steve h. Jan 12, 2010 10:49 AM

                                        I trust a chef to season my food. Is Mayor Mike a chef?

                                        1. c
                                          CorneliusSneedley Jan 12, 2010 10:43 AM

                                          NAY! This is a perfect example of government overstepping its bounds. What is next? Maybe they'll outlaw butter? Mandate that the only milk that can be sold is skim? And once they get done taking away all the things that make food taste good, where will they turn? Maybe they will start telling you what books you can and can't read? What you can and can't say?

                                          Sound paranoid to you? It's happened before in the world, trust me. It almost always happens when people allow their governments to do their thinking for them.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: CorneliusSneedley
                                            linguafood Jan 12, 2010 10:44 AM

                                            Sounds pretty paranoid to me. Tea, anyone? '-D

                                            1. re: CorneliusSneedley
                                              c
                                              cutipie721 Jan 28, 2010 07:23 PM

                                              I dont have a problem with the government controlling the amount of salt that restaurants and packaged food producers try to feed into me, as long as the salt shaker is still on my table.

                                            2. d
                                              duck833 Jan 12, 2010 09:29 AM

                                              I sure don't want the government to tell restaurants or anyone else how to season their food.

                                              1. goodhealthgourmet Jan 10, 2010 09:33 PM

                                                BIG yay/yea.

                                                as far as i can see, there's no downside. not only is it beneficial to health, people might actually start to learn what their food should/can taste like without all that salt to mask it.

                                                23 Replies
                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                  chefhound Jan 11, 2010 02:58 PM

                                                  While I agree that some restaurants (fast food/chain) do often use too much salt, and of course it almost goes without saying, packaged, processed food contain an excess of salt - salt doesn't mask the taste of food - it enhances it.

                                                  In the hands of a good cook, salt is the the "secret weapon". Using the right amount of salt improves the flavor of food better than anything else. The ability to use exactly the right amount of salt to enhance the flavors is one of the talents that distinguishes a chef like Thomas Keller or Eric Ripert from others. Yes, they obviously have other skills that separate them from the pack but it's definitely a skill that make the food so delicious!

                                                  While it's not the skill you usually think of when eating at a fine restaurant - it's actually that very thing - that the diner never thinks about the salt in the dish. The diner thinks that the food is so delicious, "that lamb jus was so rich and flavorful" which is the result of the chef using exactly the right amount of salt. You can roast as many bones as you want and add as many herbs and spices as you can think of but not achieve a sauce as good as one with the right amount of salt.

                                                  I don't go to Per Se and think, "this beef is seasoned perfectly". I taste the beef and think "This beef cheek is has such a wonderful, beefy flavor". And I don't go to TGIF and think "this steak has such great flavor", I think "this steak is too salty/not salty enough". Inaccurately seasoned food make you think about the seasoning. Perfectly season food makes you think about the food.

                                                  Reducing salt is an admirable goal for processed foods and chain restaurants. Please don't try to tell Eric Ripert how much salt to use and ruin my dinner.

                                                  1. re: chefhound
                                                    MandalayVA Jan 12, 2010 06:37 AM

                                                    As the kids say, THIS. You know what'll happen if the chains start taking out salt? Their customers will put it right back in with table salt, the worst kind of salt. I used to be a saltaholic but I switched to sea salt about a year ago and found that I used a lot less. I even have the fancy pink Himalayan salt. :D Table salt tastes like soap to me now.

                                                    1. re: MandalayVA
                                                      f
                                                      ferret Jan 12, 2010 08:49 AM

                                                      "Their customers will put it right back in with table salt, the worst kind of salt."

                                                      Unless your sea salt comes from another planet, salt is salt.

                                                      1. re: ferret
                                                        MandalayVA Jan 12, 2010 02:16 PM

                                                        Table salt is refined and contains additives, sea salt doesn't. Trust me, you can taste the difference between them.

                                                        1. re: MandalayVA
                                                          f
                                                          ferret Jan 12, 2010 02:37 PM

                                                          Table salt is salt. It's not "refined" in the sense that sugar is, it's cleaned of impurities and then packaged with an anti-caking agent (and sometimes iodine -- when iodine is added they may also add a smidgen of sugar to keep the salt from being discolored). Technically all salt is "sea salt" because it's all derived from the sea (some more recently than others). But there's no valid argument to be made that table salt is "the worst kind of salt", it's chemically identical to all sea salts -- even Himalayan salt. The current schtick is to treat salt like fine cheese or varietal wine when what you're really ingesting is mineral impurities that you would, in most cases, never consider ingesting on their own.

                                                          1. re: ferret
                                                            tenacity Jan 25, 2010 09:05 AM

                                                            What MandalayVA meant (I think) is that when using iodized/standard table salt to a dish you use more, not because its not salty, but the SIZE.

                                                            The crystals are tiny and dissolve easily. Kosher or flaked sea salt is big and crunchy and has a lot more mouth appeal with less total amount added.

                                                            I think that's the gist.... :-)

                                                            1. re: tenacity
                                                              MandalayVA Jan 25, 2010 09:15 AM

                                                              There's some truth to that. I use coarse sea salt which is generally a larger crystal than table salt. But again, table salt, particularly iodized, tastes completely different (and now gross) to me.

                                                      2. re: MandalayVA
                                                        h
                                                        hudsonvalleyfoodblog Jan 15, 2010 12:17 PM

                                                        Salt is Salt for the most past. Sea Salt is not more healthy than Kosher Salt for example.

                                                        1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog
                                                          s
                                                          StheJ Jan 15, 2010 01:23 PM

                                                          All I know is that in my opinion, properly salting food is essential to having it taste good and I personally can taste the difference between using sea salt v. table salt when I cook, and I like the taste of sea salt much better...

                                                          1. re: StheJ
                                                            h
                                                            hudsonvalleyfoodblog Jan 15, 2010 01:52 PM

                                                            I think it would be hard to tell the difference in a blind taste test. I use all kinds of salt as well but think the difference might be more in our heads then on our taste buds. I have never been involved in a blind taste test but it would be interesting to see if we would tell the difference. Based on Jeffrey Steingarten's test there is no difference.

                                                            Also let me clarify, I mean the difference between sea salt and kosher salt. Table salt does taste different because it often iodized.

                                                            1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog
                                                              s
                                                              StheJ Jan 15, 2010 02:58 PM

                                                              Appreciate your position and sorry you can't taste the difference between sea salt and kosher salt, but as per my post above, I can, in fact, taste the difference. I guess I've been doing blind taste tests for all of these years that I've been cooking...

                                                              1. re: StheJ
                                                                h
                                                                hudsonvalleyfoodblog Jan 16, 2010 06:53 AM

                                                                Ok, if you say so. So if you are eating out you can tell if they used kosher or sea salt on your roast chicken or in your soup? That is an amazing pallet.

                                                                1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog
                                                                  maria lorraine Jan 17, 2010 11:50 AM

                                                                  It's easy to tell if iodized salt has been used in a soup or stew. There's a bite to it, at the back of the mouth. Also, it seems to gain potency in a dish when it's refrigerate overnight.

                                                                  Some sea salts or specialty salts has greater complexity in their flavor -- they're citrus-y, brighter, a bit rounder in flavor, than regular salt. They're good finishing salts, but I couldn't tell if they were used in a soup or stew. (But I could detect the presence of iodized salt.) Nor should they be used in a soup or stew -- that's a waste of a gourmet ingredient. But on top of fresh vegetables, eggs, a chocolate dessert, with bread and unsalted butter -- wonderful. A huge difference.

                                                                  Moreoever, sea salt and kosher salt are usually ground more coarsely than regular salt or iodized salt, so a teaspoon of sea salt or kosher salt is actually
                                                                  less salt, less sodium, than a teaspoon of regular salt.

                                                                  The sodium to look out for is hidden sodium in all its forms in canned goods, packaged goods, fast food. Sodium is loaded into these products to boost the flavor of inferior ingredients. Sodium operates in concert with fat and sugar in processed foods to tweak the brain's reward circuitry.

                                                                  The salt you add while cooking fresh ingredients and while at the table is perfectly fine. It makes food taste better. No problem whatsoever with that unless your doctor says otherwise.

                                                                  I have a rock of pink Bolivian salt -- it looks like a big chunk of rose quartz.
                                                                  I actually grate it on top of foods, or onto a special serving dish. It's wonderful.

                                                                  1. re: maria lorraine
                                                                    h
                                                                    hudsonvalleyfoodblog Jan 17, 2010 04:46 PM

                                                                    I'm not talking about iodized table salt. I'm talking about the difference between sea salt and kosher salt. I think if I made 5 pasta dishes with sauce, one version with sea salt in the water and another with kosher that anyone would have a hard time identifying each salt in the dish. Like you said, it would be a waste. But some people here have insisted they can tell.

                                                                    If you just taste the salt directly then yes I'd expect to tell the difference. But when used in cooking I think its nearly impossible. I've read a lot on the topic and haven't seen much evidence to suggest otherwise.

                                                                    In terms of an amount of salt used I'd base it on weight, not by volume. So that would neutralize the size of the grains. A gram of kosher salt is the same amount of sodium as a gram of sea salt.

                                                                    I totally agree with you about it on fresh igredients. That is when I use specialty salts the most.

                                                        2. re: MandalayVA
                                                          c
                                                          ceojr1963 Jan 24, 2010 12:21 AM

                                                          I still crave salt, even though most of my salt intake is sea salt. The minerals that Ground salt has in it, might have been leached out over time. Sea Salt is still filled with minerals found in the ocean water, the amounts are very small, and varies from salt source to salt source.

                                                          Like I mentioned else where in this thread, I don't always crave salt, it is not something that I pour on foods.

                                                          A Chef knows that you don't salt some things till the last of the cooking process. It is not salted then cooked, that will make things taste salty after cooking. Let the flavors blend first, then add salt later.

                                                          What I don't want happening is them changing the flavor of the foods that I do buy at the grocery store. If they lower the content a bit at a time they can train your taste buds to not notice it so much and reduce the levels.

                                                          Charles.

                                                        3. re: chefhound
                                                          goodhealthgourmet Jan 12, 2010 09:12 AM

                                                          only to a point. i've been to countless restaurants where the food was so salty that the only thing i could taste was salt. that's not an "enhancement," it's a mask.

                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                            chefhound Jan 12, 2010 09:59 AM

                                                            Those restaurants are most likely the chain restaurants where the cooks don't care about what they're cooking, it's just a job. That is the point of my post - mediocre chains and fast food joints should reduce their salt usage because they do use too much. When all you can taste is salt, that is because they don't know what they're doing.

                                                            I'm saying that government should not try to regulate everyone, issuing guidelines and edicts across the board because only the crappy places need help. Good cooks know how much to use.

                                                            1. re: chefhound
                                                              goodhealthgourmet Jan 12, 2010 10:13 AM

                                                              "Those restaurants are most likely the chain restaurants where the cooks don't care about what they're cooking, it's just a job."
                                                              ~~~~~
                                                              actually, it's been my experience at several at high-end restaurants in NY, NJ and LA. i don't eat fast food, and i only patronize chain restaurants when someone else makes the decision and i don't have a choice.

                                                              we could go around on this for days. everyone's entitled to an opinion.

                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                chefhound Jan 12, 2010 10:46 AM

                                                                I certainly respect your right to your opinion. I also only patronize chain restaurants when I don't have a choice. Except for one time, I have never had poorly seasoned food at a fine dining establishment or a local favorite.

                                                                I find that in restaurants where the chefs are passionate about food, oversalting rarely happens. It's only in the places where the cooks are indifferent and the food just a means to an end, that oversalting occurs because of lack of skill.

                                                          2. re: chefhound
                                                            shaogo Jan 12, 2010 10:26 AM

                                                            I fully agree with chefhound. Salt's a two-edged sword.

                                                            I agree that some manufacturers of processed foods may be over-doing it, also.

                                                            There'd be fewer salt-related health problems if some of those same people would hydrate properly -- drink enough water! My friend the nurse sees people with all sorts of ailments who'd get better if they drank enough water.

                                                            1. re: chefhound
                                                              linguafood Jan 12, 2010 10:35 AM

                                                              You are so right. Salt, used in the perfect amount, is absolutely key to make food taste right. No herbs & spices can make up for the lack or overuse of salt.

                                                            2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                              h
                                                              hudsonvalleyfoodblog Jan 15, 2010 12:15 PM

                                                              Quality restaurants know how to properly use salt. Places like Mcdonald's need to do more then just adjust their sodium levels. I'm all for improving the quality of food but I don't like the sound of a blanket rule that would be applied to ALL food. I understand right now that its not mandatory but eventually they will want it to be. Salt is not evil is used correctly. No need to create a law for its use.

                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                i
                                                                Ideefixed Jan 22, 2010 07:11 PM

                                                                I've got very low blood pressure, and I love salt. Why do I have suffer?

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