by Kulsum Musani
According to the American Heart Association, we are recommended to take in less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium every day to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. This amount is a little bit more than half a teaspoon of table salt. Naturally, it may not seem like a big deal, but when you factor in all the fries, burgers and fried chicken, we have a problem.
Studies have found that there is a wide discrepancy between salt content in food in the United States and Canada compared to the salt content of the same fast food sold in different countries. This extra source of salt does not mainly come from the excessive amount of fast food restaurants we eat at, but the level of salt that is put into almost each and everything we order. The result: more health problems and subsequently, health care costs.
Some nutritional information to consider:
• The chicken McNuggets from McDonald’s in the US contain almost three times more salt per serving than the United Kingdom (600 mg in the UK vs. 1500 mg in the US).
• A Subway club sandwich in the United States contains approximately two times more sodium compared to the same thing in France (2,700 mg in the US vs. 1,300 in France).
• Salads sold by fast food chains in Canada have approximately twice as more salt per serving compared to France and New Zealand (800 mg in Canada vs. 300 in France and New Zealand).
In my opinion, this does not mean that we should give up going to fast food restaurants and go on a complete diet. While not specifically required by rules and regulations, restaurants have started to make a conscious effort to reduce the amount of salt in our food. If the same food tastes the same overseas and it contains less salt, why not give it a try in the United States?
Granted, this change will probably take a long time before there is any visible effect, but at the same time, we, as college students who spend a good amount of money eating food outside of school, should make a conscious effort to curb the level of salt we take in. As many people say, the customer is always right, so the louder we raise our voices, the faster positive change will come.
So let’s raise our voices and spread the word, because what we say can make a difference, and this difference is worth a try. Stay healthy!