Processed Foods: The Ultimate Salt Carriers

Processed foods in all forms–from potato chips and sugary cereals to the processed chicken and fish filets delivered to our favorite fast food chains and restaurants–are the ultimate carriers of salt (and not to mention a host of mysterious food additives…stay tuned).  With more and more people eating outside of the home and not making use of their kitchens, we are placing our health into the hands of people motivated by dollar signs rather than our benefit and well-being.  

Don’t get me wrong, our foods have been processed for years, centuries even. But at the same time, it was a time when we were more active as a people and the technologies were not as biologically and chemically invasive.  In the early 20th century, food preservation was used primarily for military services.  Salt was typically the main preservative and slowly preservation transitioned to include spray drying, concentrated juices, and then to artificial sweeteners, coloring agents, and the rest is history.  Thousands of more chemicals away and we have come to the chemical potpourri that most food product (or edible-food like substances!) have become.   With the disappearance of the American farmer and the growth of big agribusiness,  foods are now being shipped thousands of miles before it reaches our plate (or styrofoam, take-out containers).  Eating salt and unpronounceable food additives have consequently becomes the norm.  When it comes to what you put into your mouth and system, it doesn’t have to be…
So what’s so wrong with processed foods?  Don’t we need salt anyway?  Perhaps some processed foods on occasion is more realistic than completely eliminating them, but the problem lies in that processed foods are a constant in most of our lives, often replacing whole, real food.  Besides the health risks of salt and its role in developing heart disease and high blood pressure, others studies find that processed foods may relate to mental health as well (more info). 

To answer the common question about salt–this compound is certainly needed for our bodies (we don’t want to suffer from hyponatremia; go to Water 101 if you’re like, hypo-na what?).  It’s the quantities of salt that we’re eating that’s the problem. Read more on salt in Salt/Sodium 101.       

Going back to the original food advice that I proposed by food activist, Michael Pollan–Eat Real, Mostly Plants, and Not Too Much–by following these first two recommendations, you will gradually start to eliminate processed foods from you diet naturally.  Remember, it’s all a process!

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