Friday, April 07, 2006

Let's drink to the Salt of the Earth

I went to an ear/nose/throat doctor last week to take care of this sinus/allergy/something pressure that had been in my ears for a while now. They tested everything, found that nothing was really wrong with my ears, and then asked: "Do you eat a lot of salt?" My reply was iffy (I think I said, "Sorta"), but it has occurred to me since that I eat a ton of salt. They told me to go on a super low sodium diet (I guess sodium causes some kind of build up in your sinus passages?) and to start taking Claritin. Initially, I figured eliminating the bowl of Ramen noodles I have most days at lunch would do the trick, but then I started looking into exactly how much salt is in certain foods.

For example, 1/3 of a box of flavored couscous probably has almost 1/3 of your daily salt intake. 17 Rold Gold pretzels make up a quarter. Any normal, snack size bag of chips is easily a quarter, probably more if you go for Fritos or something like that. Cheese has salt. A slice of pizza has 1/3 your daily salt intake by itself. Bread has salt. Frozen vegetables, sometimes, even have salt.

I've been trying pretty damn hard not to eat too much salt (oh, and I can't have caffeine), but I've come to the simple conclusion that salt is the single hardest thing to eliminate from your diet. For example, I had to request my fries without salt at Chadwick's on Wednesday (they obliged) and then had to correct myself to order the grilled tilapia, instead of the blackened tilapia, which, of course, is rubbed with spices that include a pretty solid amount of salt. I didn't salt my grits or eggs last weekend either.

So that's pretty much where I stand. Someone asked me a while ago how salt just naturally got into foods. Fresh vegetables, for instance, have about 32 mg of sodium per serving. That's not much, but where does it come from? I'm at a loss, and Google ain't helping. Any possible answers would be appreciated.

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