Don't Be Fooled By Low Sodium Claims

April 24, 2013

Marketing often leads us to believe foods are better for us than they really are. Find out how sodium claims are swaying shoppers here

A study recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that sodium claims on food labels improved consumer’s perception of the healthfulness of the product. SupermarketGuru wants you to be the savviest of shoppers so here are the details of the study and what you should look for on labels.

Researchers studied over 500 Canadian consumers with and without hypertension, to understand their interpretation of three sodium claims (disease risk reduction, function, and nutrient-content claims) and a taste claim. Participants answered the same questions on attitudes and understanding of claims after seeing each package. They found that food packages with any sodium claim resulted in a more positive attitude toward the claim and the product healthfulness, than did packages with the taste claim, although all packages were identical nutritionally.

Participants with hypertension rated the sodium claims as more healthful and in general, participants attributed additional health benefits to low-sodium products beyond the well-established relation of sodium and hypertension.

Buyer beware! We can all be swayed by marketing and sodium claims, so here are SupermarketGuru’s top tips for shopping smart.

Where is the sodium coming from? All our food contributes to daily sodium intake, but over 75 percent comes from processed and restaurant foods, while only about 10 percent comes from the shaker.  Bread, pizza, cold cuts, pasta dishes, and mixed chicken dinners are the largest contributors of sodium in our diet.

What’s the best way to cut down on your sodium intake? Cook more at home, choose fresh, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables - with no added sodium (check the ingredients). Your taste buds will acclimate soon enough and you will learn to prefer foods that are less salty. When using canned vegetables or beans - that may contain salt as a preservative, rinse well with water to remove as much salt as possible. Cut back on processed foods; read and compare labels. Consider eating out a treat!