Friday, April 20, 2012

The US has the Saltiest Fast Food in the World

I think we can all come together and admit that fast food is horrendously unhealthy for you. It's processed, has very little nutritional benefit, and has a ridiculous amount of salt. But is this universally true? Is fast food "better" for you in some countries than in others?
The Canadian Medical Association published a study in its journal on Monday which stated that not only does the salt content in fast food vary substantially depending on the type of food, the chain, and the country in which it is produced, but most alarmingly, that the US has the saltiest food in the world.

In the study, "The variability of reported salt levels in fast foods across six countries: opportunities for salt reduction", nutritional data on the sodium content of six international fast food chains in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, the UK, and the US was studied. Average salt contents were compared between chains, and between countries. 
The study found that salt contents across the surveyed countries varied drastically. For instance, while chicken products in the UK contained 1.1 g of salt per 100 g serving, the same portion of chicken in the US contained 1.8 g of salt. 
Even as a non-fast-food-eater, I found the results of this study alarming. A long term high-sodium diet is lethal, and can lead to high blood pressure, hypertension, heart disease, and kidney failure.
I do not like products with high sodium contents, so I opt to use Morton's Salt Substitute in place of salt in all my recipes. Instead of table salt, or sodium chloride, Morton's salt substitute is potassium chloride which is much better for your body, and tastes the same. 
I will be discussing more about sodium, (and potassium, my favorite macro-nutrient after protein) in later posts, but I'm curious what my readers think of this study. 

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. A few thoughts come to mind after reading the study:

    Over-salting the food is part of a sales strategy to make the customer thirsty and get him/her to buy more drinks. This strategy isn't limited to fast food restaurants; chain restaurants serving alcohol are especially guilty of this. Is it possible that this sales strategy hasn't caught on abroad, or that it isn't effective, and hence why the fast food abroad isn't as heavily salted?

    I believe that all the chains mentioned in the article are American chains that have established branches abroad. What about chains that originated outside the US and later established US branches? Do the American branches of Maoz (Dutch origin) have more sodium on the menu than the original Netherlands Maoz or any other Maoz location? Do the Aroma Espresso Bars (Israeli origin) adjust to a fattier/more sugary menu to please an American palette when branches popped up stateside?

    How do native and transplanted chains in the same location compare to each other? e.g. How does the native Israeli Burger Ranch compare to Burger King branch in Israel with regard to sodium content?