Aside from an occasional bout of arthritis in my lower back, I’m a pretty healthy guy.
But a few weeks ago, I just felt out of sorts. Nothing specific…but a little off my feed, as dairy farmers would say about their cows. My lifelong mantra has been that we are all responsible for our own salvation so I bought one of those 25-buck blood pressure meters from the drug store and decided to start there. Sure enough my numbers were higher than they should have been, hovering around 145 over 90. (Normal is 120 over 80.)
A call to my best friend and doctor, Michel, confirmed my conclusions and included some recommendations from him. He put me on some medicine, but he also told me to get more exercise and to cut my sodium.
I already exercise about an hour per day so my prime target became salt.
BUT…. other than an occasional shake on popcorn and my egg-white omelets, I couldn’t recall adding salt to anything in years
I’ve always read food labels because keeping the fat out has been my longtime focus. Now that I’ve moved down a few lines on the nutrition labels, I’m astonished at how much sodium is in just about everything.
Now I know that 2,400 milligrams of sodium daily – the amount in one teaspoon of salt – is the recommended maximum for adults. Someone like me with high blood pressure should eat half that amount.
But I’ve also learned that the average American consumes twice the max! And most is attributable to processed and preserved foods – that is, the stuff in the middle aisles and the deli sections of grocery stores.
Once I recognized how widespread high blood pressure is in our culture, and how many millions of people suffer strokes or heart attacks or die too young because of it, it came to me like an epiphany that I needed to do something.
I called my Head Buyer Larry in the middle of the night – I woke him up – and declared: “We are on a mission! We must seek out sodium-free and low-sodium items in every category and visibly mark them. We must make it easy for people who have high blood pressure, or love someone who does, to cut out the salt.”
We had already done the same for gluten-free items. In fact, we offer more gluten-free products than any other grocery in the Midwest and they’re a breeze to find because of their unique tags.
I put every one of my buyers on a mission to find no- or low-sodium products and, to my amazement, we’ve found hundreds of them ! We’ve got whole lines of soups. We found things in every single category, including lunch meats, and all these hundreds of new products are being marked so shoppers can spot them.
Hiller’s is becoming a sea of low-sodium tags
Sure, I’ve read that some manufacturers are discretely cutting the sodium in their processed foods, like soup, and not telling anyone. They worry people won’t buy low-sodium things because they aren’t jazzed up by all the salt.
I say Horse Pucky ! Food manufacturers have oversalted us for decades. If your life depends on it, you’ll get accustomed to the taste of less salt
I’ve changed my diet and cut the salt. It’s a gift to myself and those I love. And stocking all these new products – almost a thousand of them – is my gift to you or someone you love who should be cutting salt, too.
Look for the little tags with the slash mark through the salt shakers. All of our lives may depend on it.