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Tastes salty to me: The hidden truth of sodium in foods

Tastes salty to me: The hidden truth of sodium in foods

Do you ever read the labels on the boxes of processed foods in your kitchen?  The other day I had two boxes of in front of me, a ready-to eat breakfast cereal and a snack cracker, and I dared to compare. I was surprised to see that the salty tasting snack cracker actually contained less sodium than the breakfast cereal, which didn’t taste salty at all. Since table salt is made of sodium and chloride, shouldn’t a salty tasting food also be high in sodium, and vice versa?

  Sodium per serving listed Sodium per gram of product % Daily value of sodium Salt taste
Snack Cracker 115mg sodium per 18g (4 Crackers) serving 6.38mg 5%DV Salty tasting
Breakfast Cereal 250mg sodium per 27g (1 cup) serving 9.25mg 10%DV Not salty tasting

A big difference between the two products is that the crackers have the salt on the outer surface of the cracker.

When I eat the cracker, the salt hits my tongue directly, so the salt is one of the first things I taste. In contrast, the salt in the breakfast cereal is mixed in, so the salty taste is hidden by the other ingredients.

What I’ve learned is that I can’t rely on my taste buds to tell me which foods are high in salt and sodium, and thankfully I don’t have to.  The % Daily Value (%DV) on the Nutrition Facts table can be used to easily determine if a product has a little or a lot of nutrients like sodium. Below 5% DV is considered to be a little, while more than 15% DV is considered to be a lot.  Since a high sodium intake is strongly linked to higher blood pressure, it pays to check the value listed for sodium in the Nutrition Facts table before choosing packaged foods for family meals.

What foods in your pantry have more than 15% DV for sodium, but don’t taste salty?

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