Why So Salty?

You get home late from work or school. You’ve had a long day and don’t even want to think about having to make something for dinner. You think about all the things you COULD make, but do you really have the energy for that? You turn to the fridge and reach for the freezer door, you pull it open and there under the feeble gleaming light of the freezer is a frozen pizza! The answer to your food dilemma! Who doesn’t love pizza right? It’s fast, easy, and delicious! Frozen pizza is a common dinner in most households. In an article titled “Pie In The Sky, Is It Possible to Make a More Healthful Pizza?” that I found on the New York Times website discusses some of the issues surrounding frozen pizza in the united states.

The article goes into detail about the big food companies ongoing struggle to reduce the amount of sodium that their food contains. The article talks a lot about Paul Bakus, an executive at Nestlé. Bakus runs the frozen pizza division at Nestlé, the company recently bought DiGiorno food line from Kraft and have been struggling to get the ingredients to hold up the the company’s health guidelines and expectancies. For the most part the only main issue is the high amounts of sodium the pizza contain due to DiGiornos famous rising crust. The company looked into using potassium chloride as a substitute for salt in the rising crust because it gives the same sensation of salt without all the sodium. The only issue with this is that a portion of our population process potassium chloride as tasting metallic or bitter tasting which would cause issues for a large portion of the customers. All Food companies are facing the challenge of sodium cutbacks by the FDA.

About 75% of the sodium in our diets comes from packaged or restaurant food, which leaves us with only 25% under our control. High sodium diets are one of the leading contributors to heart disease which is the biggest health issue the United States faces. In the article the author states “Today Americans consume two to three times the sodium we need, and one in three Americans suffers from high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease”. Two to three times the amount of sodium? No wonder the United States citizens struggles to keep their hearts beating. Bakus traveled to different countries food labs to try and obtain some sort of inspiration for lowering the amount of salt and found that there was no way to lower the amount of sodium down to the ideal goal without there being a somewhat significant change in taste.

What the companies really need to do is all agree to slowly wean the united states off the sodium rich foods by decreasing the amount of salt they put into their food over a period of time. Americans pallets have developed a tolerance of salty foods and don’t notice how much they actually consume. Along with our large portion sizes which are another contributing factor in america’s declining health. Towards the end of the article to author writes about the “Portion Guidance” that the pizza company has put in place to assist people in making healthier portion choices. They state that a healthy portion of pizza is one slice with a salad, vegetables and fruit and that pizza alone is not a healthy meal.

Its nice to read about how food companies are trying to reduce sodium levels and improve the health of the country but at the same time it’s shocking to think about the unhealthy eating habits most people maintain. It is important for people to pay attention to and know what they are putting in their bodies. Frozen pizza is a staple food in most college students diets. I don’t think enough people know how unhealthy it is to eat frozen pizza on a regular basis because if they did they might think twice about eating it as often as I observe. I believe people should educate themselves in healthy eating habits so that they do not fall into the trap of ignorantly ingesting things that don’t seem as bad as they really are for you.

According to the CDC “About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths” Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. This is a rising issue that I don’t think enough people are either aware of or care about. It is important for people to be aware of this to try and instill healthy eating habits on to the younger generation. As of right now pizza is “the single greatest source of sodium for children ages 6 to 18” adults should be aware of the health risks of the food they are feeding their children because they are unable of knowing and making eating decisions for themselves. What children learn at young ages they carry with them into adulthood, teaching your child what a healthy diet looks like could potentially end up saving their life as an adult.

http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm

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